Virago to publish memoir from Dame Eileen Atkins

Virago to publish memoir from Dame Eileen Atkins

Actress Dame Eileen Atkins, aged 86, will publish her memoir with Virago in October 2021. 

In Will She Do?, Atkins tells the story of a girl from a council estate in Tottenham in the 1930s—her father was employed as a gas meter reader and her mother was a seamstress and barmaid—who was determined to have a career on the stage.

Virago chair Lennie Goodings bought world rights from Sarah Williams at Independent Talent. 

Described as "candid and witty" by its publisher, the memoir takes Atkins from her awkward performances in working-men’s clubs at six years of age as dancing "Baby Eileen", through the war years in London, to her breakthrough at 32 on Broadway with "The Killing of Sister George", for which she received the first of five Tony Award nominations. She co-created "Upstairs, Downstairs" and wrote the screenplay for "Mrs Dalloway", for which she won an Evening Standard Award. This is her first autobiographical work.

Characterised by "an eye for the absurd, a terrific knack for storytelling and an insistence on honesty", according to Virago, Will She Do? is "a wonderful raconteur’s tale about family, about class, about youthful ambition and big dreams and what really goes on behind the scenes". 

Made a Dame in 1991, Atkins has been on American and British stage and screen since 1957 and has won an Emmy, a BAFTA and is a three-time Olivier Award winner. Her theatre performances include "The Height of the Storm", "Ellen Terry", "All that Fall" and she has appeared in television and films ranging from "Doc Martin" to "The Crown".  

Goodings commented: "For nearly a decade, since I first heard some of her childhood stories, I have been pestering Eileen Atkins to write a memoir and now at last she has and it’s everything I hoped it would be: funny, lively, and a fascinating story of how she has come to be one of our great actresses."

Atkins herself will read the audiobook.