Peggy: The Life of Margaret Ramsay, Play Agent

Colin Chambers, Author Palgrave MacMillan $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-17713-3
Often shifting ""without warning from gadfly to nanny, from shepherdess to prophetic sphinx, from temptress to termagant,"" play agent Ramsay was a charismatic presence in British theater for 25 years. Her keen sense of literary talent was to influence the careers of such playwrights as Eugene Ionesco, Joe Orton, John Mortimer, David Hare and Caryl Churchill. She even played a minor role in the successes of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, neither of whom she represented. With Ramsay's approval, Chambers, literary manager of the Royal Shakespeare Company, interviewed more than 200 of her acquaintances and clients for this book but examined only cursorily her upbringing in South Africa, her early failed marriage to Norman Ramsay and her relationship with actor Bill Roderick, her longtime companion. Most of her private life is passed over quickly in favor of a tiresomely sequential account of Ramsay's involvement in the careers of her more illustrious clients--an account filled with name-dropping and flights of overblown language. This biography should interest anglophiles and those in the theater world, but its appeal could have been broadened with a deeper analysis of the progression of British theater in the 20th century and a more thorough examination of Ramsay's maddening character. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/02/1998
Release date: 02/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
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