Skip to main content

Atkins, Eileen 1934–

Atkins, Eileen 1934–


Born June 106, 1934, in London, England; daughter of Arthur Thomas (a gas meter reader) and Annie Ellen (a seamstress and barmaid; maiden name, Elkins) Atkins; married Julian Glover (an actor), 1957 (divorced, 1966); married Bill Shepherd (a television producer), February 2, 1978. Education: Attended Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Addresses: Agent—International Creative Management, 76 Oxford St., London W1D 1BS, England.

Career: Actress and writer. Memorial Theatre Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, member of company, 1957–59; Old Vic Company, London, member of company, beginning 1962.

Awards, Honors: Clarence Derwent Award, Actors' Equity Association, c. 1963, for Exit the King; Evening Standard Theatre Award, best actress, 1965; London Theatre Critics Award, most promising newcomer, Plays and Players, 1965; Antoinette Perry Award nomination and Evening Standard Theatre Award, best actress, both 1967, for The Killing of Sister George; London Critics Circle Theatre Award, c. 1968, for The Cocktail Party; London Theatre Critics Award, best actress, Drama Desk Award, outstanding performance, Antoinette Perry Award nomination, and Variety Club Award, all 1972, for Vivat! Vivat Regina!; Drama League Award, distinguished performance, 1972; Drama Desk Award, best featured actress in a play, 1978, for The Night of the Tribades; Film Award nomination, best supporting actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1985, for The Dresser; Laurence Olivier Award, best supporting actress, Society of London Theatre, 1989, for Cymbeline, Mountain Language, and The Winter's Tale; decorated commander, Order of the British Empire, 1990, elevated to dame, 2001; Drama Desk Award, best solo performance, 1991, Obie Award, distinguished performance, Village Voice, 1991, Lucille Lortel Award, outstanding actress, League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers, 1992, Helen Hayes Award, best non-resident lead actress, Washington Theatre Awards Society, 1995, and special citation, New York Drama Critics Circle, c. 1995, all for A Room of One's Own; London Critics Circle Theatre award, best actress, 1992, for The Night of the Iguana; Obie Award, distinguished performance, 1994, Lucille Lortel Award, outstanding actress, 1995, and Special Drama Desk Award, 1995, all for Vita and Virginia; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best actress, 1995, for Indiscretions; honorary Drama Desk Award, 1995; Laurence Olivier Award nomination, best actress, 1997, for John Gabriel Borkman; Evening Standard Theatre Award, best actress, 1997, for A Delicate Balance; inducted into Theatre Hall of Fame, 1998; Laurence Olivier Award, best actress, 1999, Lucille Lortel Award nomination, outstanding actress, Drama Desk Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award nomination, all 2001, all for The Unexpected Man; Evening Standard British Film Award, best screenplay, 1999, for Mrs. Dalloway; Screen Actors Guild Award, Special Achievement Award, Satellite Awards, International Press Academy, Florida Film Critics Circle Award, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, Phoenix Film Critics Society Award nomination, and Online Film Critics Society Award, all best ensemble (with others), 2002, for Gosford Park; Evening Standard Theatre Award nomination, best actress, 2003, and Laurence Olivier Award, best actress, 2004, both for Honour; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, Drama Desk Award nomination, and Outer Critics Circle Awards, all best actress, 2004, for The Retreat from Moscow.


Stage Appearances:

Nurse, Harvey, Repertory Theatre, Bangor, Ireland, 1952.

Jacquenetta, Love's Labour's Lost, Open Air Theatre, London, 1953.

Beattie, Roots, Old Vic Theatre, London, 1960.

The girl, The Square, Bromley Theatre, London, 1961.

Viola, Twelfth Night, Old Vic Company, London, 1962.

Lady Anne, Richard III, Old Vic Company, 1962.

Miranda, The Tempest, Old Vic Company, 1962.

Eileen Midway, Semi-Detached, Saville Theatre, London, 1962.

Lady Brute, The Provok'd Wife, Vaudeville Theatre, London, 1963.

Juliette, Exit the King, Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland, then Royal Court Theatre, London, 1963.

Viola, Twelfth Night, Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL, 1964.

Ophelia, Hamlet, Ravinia Festival, 1964.

Alice "Childie" McNaught, The Killing of Sister George, Old Vic Theatre, then Duke of York's Theatre, London, 1965, later Belasco Theatre, New York City, 1966–67.

Joan Middleton, The Restoration of Arnold Middleton, Royal Court Theatre, 1966.

Lika, The Promise, Henry Miller's Theatre, New York City, 1967.

Celia Coplestone, The Cocktail Party, Chichester Festival, Chichester, England, then Wyndham's Theatre, later Haymarket Theatre, both London, 1968.

Joan Shannon, The Sleeper's Den, Royal Court Theatre, 1969.

Elizabeth I, Vivat! Vivat Regina! Chichester Festival, then Picadilly Theatre, London, 1970, later Broad-hurst Theatre, New York City, 1972.

Title role, Suzanna Andler, Aldwych Theatre, London, 1973.

Rosalind, As You Like It, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, 1973.

Hesione Hushabye, Heartbreak House, National Theatre Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1975.

Joan of Arc (title role), Saint Joan, Old Vic Theatre, 1977.

Marie Caroline David, The Night of the Tribades, Helen Hayes Theatre, New York City, 1977.

Viola, Twelfth Night, Old Vic Theatre, 1978.

Jennet Jourdemayne, The Lady's Not for Burning, Old Vic Theatre, 1978.

Title role, Mary Barnes, Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1980.

Nell, Passion Play, Royal Shakespeare Company, Aldwych Theatre, London, 1981.

Mrs. Hitchcock, Sergeant Musgrave's Dance, Old Vic Theatre, 1984.

Title role, Medea, Young Vic Theatre, London, 1986.

Let Us Go Then, You and I: The Life and Poetry of T. S. Eliot, Lyric Theatre, London, 1986.

Eileen O'Shaugnessy, Tuesday's Child, Stratford East Theatre, London, 1986.

Marie, Thursday's Ladies, Apollo Theatre, London, 1987.

Paulina, The Winter's Tale, National Theatre Company, Cottesloe Theatre, then Olivier Theatre, London, 1988.

Queen, Cymbeline, National Theatre Company, Cottesloe Theatre, then Olivier Theatre, both 1988.

Elderly woman, Mountain Language, Lyttelton Theatre, London, 1988.

Sally Kershaw, Exclusive, Strand Theatre, London, 1989.

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (solo show), Hampstead Theatre, then Playhouse Theatre, both London, 1989.

Title role, Prin, Manhattan Theatre Club Stage I, New York City, 1990.

The Night of the Iguana, National Theatre Company, 1992.

Virginia Woolf, Vita and Virginia, Ambassadors' Theatre, London, 1993, then Union Square Theatre (some sources cite Lambs Theatre), New York City, 1994–95.

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (solo show), Arena Stage, Washington, DC, 1993–94.

Gypsy of the Year, St. James Theatre, New York City, 1994.

Leonie (Leo), Indiscretions (Les parents terribles), Royal National Theatre, then Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City, 1995.

Gunhild, John Gabriel Borkman, National Theatre Company, 1996.

Agnes, A Delicate Balance, Theatre Royale, London, 1997.

The woman, The Unexpected Man, West End production, 1998, then in staged reading, off-Broadway, 2000, later Promenade Theatre, New York City, 2000–2001.

Title role, Honour, Royal National Theatre, Cottesloe Theatre, 2003.

Alice, The Retreat from Moscow, Booth Theatre, New York City, 2003–2004.

The Birthday Party, Duchess Theatre, London, 2005.

Sister Aloysius, Doubt, Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City, 2005–.

Also appeared in benefit performances and other limited engagements.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Maggie Clayhanger, Hilda Lessways, BBC, 1959.

Attendant Lady Joan La Pucelle, An Age of Kings, BBC, 1960.

Gertrude Morel, "Sons and Lovers," Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1981.

Madame Ostrakova, Smiley's People, syndicated, 1982.

Mrs. Mailer, Breaking Up, BBC, 1986.

Reader, The Modern World: Ten Great Writers, Channel 4, 1988.

Narrator, China Rising: The Epic History of Twentieth Century China, 1992.

Dr. Emily Brightman, A Dance to the Music of Time, Channel 4, 1997.

Celia, "The Hand of God," Talking Heads 2, BBC, 1998.

Marie Louise, Madame Bovary PBS, 2000.

Jane Murdstone, David Copperfield, TNT, 2000.

Television Appearances; Movies:

The girl, "The Big Man Coughed and …" The Wednesday Play, BBC, 1966.

Mabel, "Wanted: Single Gentleman," The Wednesday Play, BBC, 1967.

Mrs. Mann, Oliver Twist, CBS, 1982.

Nelly, Nelly's Version, Channel 4, 1983.

Queen Tamora, "Titus Andronicus," BBC Television Shakespeare (also known as The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare), BBC-2, 1985.

Kitty Higdon, The Burston Rebellion, BBC, 1985.

Nellie Osborne, A Better Class of Person, Thames, 1985.

Countess, Roman Holiday, NBC, 1987.

Martha, A Hazard of Hearts, CBS, 1987.

Judith Starkadder, Cold Comfort Farm, BBC, 1995 (later released theatrically, Gramercy, 1995.

Violet Moon, The Sleeper, BBC America, 2000.

Professor Evelyn "E. M." Ashford, Wit, HBO, 2001.

Queen Mary, Bertie and Elizabeth, PBS, 2002.

Eva Larkin, Love Again, BBC, 2003.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Nothing's Ever Over, 1968.

Leslie Crosbie, The Letter (also known as W. Somerset Maugham: The Letter), BBC, 1969.

Olga, "The Three Sisters," Play of the Month, BBC, 1969.

The woman, Double Bill, BBC, 1969.

Eileen, Party Games, BBC, 1970.

Olive Hardy, Olive (also known as W. Somerset Maugham: Olive), BBC, 1970.

Titania, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Play of the Month, BBC, 1971.

Duchess, "The Duchess of Malfi," Conflicts in Drama, PBS, 1972 (broadcast in England as an episode of Stage 2).

Jennet Jourdemayne, The Lady's Not for Burning, PBS, 1974.

The Lady from the Sea, BBC, 1974.

"Electra," Play of the Month, BBC, 1974.

Vanity Fair, "She Fell Among Thieves," BBC2 Play of the Week, BBC-2, 1978, then broadcast by PBS, 1980.

Mrs. Rutledge, "Bewitched," Shades of Darkness, PBS, 1985.

Narrator, The Madonna of Medjugorje, PBS, 1988.

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own, PBS, 1990.

The Stuff of Madness, Harlech Television, 1990.

Rose Benjamin, "The Lost Language of Cranes," Great Performances, PBS, 1992.

Mrs. May Maitland, "The Maitlands," Playhouse, BBC, 1993.

Interviewee, "Alex Guinness: A Secret Man," Arena, 2003.

(In archive footage) The 58th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 2004.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Grace Patchett, "A Stroll along the Sands," Z Cars, BBC, 1964.

Patricia Highsmith's Tales (also known as Cadavres exquis de Patricia Highsmith), Antenne 6, 1990.

Television Guest Appearances; Episodic:

The Charlie Rose Show, PBS, 1995.

The Heaven and Earth Show, BBC, 2005.

Guest panelist, Loose Women, ITV, 2005.

Television Appearances; Series:

Charlotte Verney, The Massingham Affair, BBC, 1964.

Mrs. Pankhurst, In My Defence, 1990.

Television Appearances; Other:

The Lives of Animals, 2002.

Television Work; Series:

Associate creator, Upstairs, Downstairs, London Weekend Television, 1971–75, broadcast by Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1974–77.

Cocreator, The House of Elliott, BBC, 1991–94, Arts and Entertainment, 1992.

Film Appearances:

Shirley, Inadmissible Evidence, Paramount, 1968.

Sister Albana, The Devil Within Her (also known as The Baby, I Don't Want to Be Born, It Lives Within Her, It's Growing Inside Her, The Monster, and Sharon's Baby), American International Pictures, 1975.

Hester Salomon, Equus, United Artists, 1977.

Raku Fire, 1977.

Madge, The Dresser, Columbia, 1983.

Helen Marriner, The Vision, 1987.

Lilian Bentley, Let Him Have It (also known as L'age de vivre), Fine Line, 1991.

Mary, Wolf, Columbia, 1994.

Phil, Jack and Sarah, Gramercy, 1995.

Alice, The Avengers, Warner Bros., 1998.

Emily Boyle, Women Talking Dirty, 1999.

Mrs. Croft, Gosford Park, USA Films, 2001.

Barbara, The Hours, Paramount, 2002.

Lady Jocelyn Dashwood, What a Girl Wants, Warner Bros., 2003.

Amanda, Het pesten en Budan, Egy (also known as A Long Weekend in Pest and Buda), MTM Enterprises, 2003.

Maddy, Cold Mountain, Miramax, 2003.

Miss Matilda Crawley, Vanity Fair, Focus Features, 2004.

School matron, The Queen of Sheba's Pearls, CDI Films, 2005.

Adelina, Le fiesta del chivo (also known as The Feast of the Goat), Future Film Group, 2005.

Mrs. Hargraves, Ask the Dust, Paramount, 2006.

Iris, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Tin Pan Films, 2006.


Audio Books; Reader:

Reprise, by Claire Rayner, G. K. Hall Audio Books, 1991.

Jane and Prudence, by Barbara Pym, Chivers Audio Books, 1995.

A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf, Penguin Audio, 1996.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Penguin Audio, 1996.

Babel Tower, by A. S. Byatt, 1996.

The Old Wives' Tale, by Arnold Bennett, Orbis Publishing, 1996.

To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf, Penguin Audio-books, 1997.

Cold Comfort Farm: A Wickedly Comic Film from Gramercy Pictures, by Stella Gibbons, Penguin Audiobooks, 1997.

Voice of Constance, King John, by William Shakespeare, Arkangel, 1998.

The Mill on the Floss, by George Eliot, Cover to Cover Cassettes, 1998.

Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, 1998.

Talking Heads 2, BBC Consumer Publishing, 1998.

101 Sonnets by 101 Poets, edited by Don Paterson, Penguin Audiobooks, 1999.

News that Stays News, edited by Simon Rae, Penguin Audiobooks, 1999.

Short and Sweet, edited by Simon Armitage, Penguin Audiobooks, 1999.

The World's Wife, Pan Macmillan, 2002.

The Complete Arkangel Shakespeare: 38 Fully-Dramatized Plays, by William Shakespeare, Audio Partners, 2003.

The Winter's Tale, by William Shakespeare, Audio Partners, 2004.


Virginia Woolf: A Room of One's Own (solo reading), Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 1997.


Stage Plays:

Vita and Virginia (based on correspondence between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf), Ambassadors' Theatre, London, 1993, then Union Square Theatre, New York City, 1994–95, published by Samuel French, 1996.


Mrs. Dalloway (also known as Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway"; based on the novel by Woolf), First Look Pictures Releasing, 1997.



Playbill, October 2, 2003; March 2, 2006.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Atkins, Eileen 1934–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . 22 Mar. 2018 <>.

"Atkins, Eileen 1934–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . (March 22, 2018).

"Atkins, Eileen 1934–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved March 22, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.