Kempson, Rachel 1910-2003

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KEMPSON, Rachel 1910-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born May 28, 1910, in Dartmouth, England; died May 24, 2003, in Millbrook, NY. Actor and author. Though Kempson is often remembered in the United States as the mother of actors Vanessa, Lynn, and Corin Redgrave, she was an accomplished actress in her own right and was especially applauded for her work in England as a Shakespearean stage actress. She first came to love acting when she was a student at a convent school in England, and family friend and actor Cyril Maude saw this interest and helped train her and get her admitted to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. After leaving the academy, Kempson found work at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford, where she immediately took on such roles as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. During the 1930s she appeared on stage at the Savoy Theatre, the Oxford Playhouse, the Old Vic, and the Westminster Theater. After meeting and marrying actor Michael Redgrave in 1935, Kempson took a more or less back seat to Redgrave's career and focused on raising a family, though she still continued to act. Among her many roles were Mrs. Bradman in Blithe Spirit, Octavia in Antony and Cleopatra, and Mrs. Thea Elvsted in Hedda Gabler. She also made appearances in numerous movies, including The Captive Heart (1948), Tom Jones (1963), and Jane Eyre (1971), as well as in television episodes of Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! Kempson wrote about her experiences in her autobiography, A Family and Its Fortunes (1986), which was published in the United States as Life among the Redgraves (1988).



Writers Directory, 12th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.


Chicago Tribune, May 26, 2003, section 4, p. 9.

Los Angeles Times, May 27, 2003, p. B11.

New York Times, May 26, 2003, p. A17.

Times (London, England), May 26, 2003.

Washington Post, May 26, 2003, p. B6.