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‘She is the cur’s cods, the terrier’s testicles, the business. I will go farther and declare that Atkins is the finest actor appearing in the world right now’ – A. A. Gill


Will She Do? is the story of a girl from a council estate in Tottenham, born in 1934 to an electric-meter reader and a seamstress, who was determined to be an actress.

Candid and witty, this memoir takes her 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 thirty-two on Broadway with The Killing of Sister George, for which she received the first of four Tony Award nominations. She co-created Upstairs, Downstairs and wrote the screenplay for Mrs Dalloway (for which she won an Evening Standard Award) and at aged eighty-six, this is her first autobiographical work.

Characterised by an eye for the absurd, a terrific knack for storytelling and an insistence on honesty, 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, Eileen 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 Cranford to The Crown.

Reviews

There is something about those large eyes and that steadfast look that tells you that you are in the presence of a remarkable actor; and so it has proved in a career that has encompassed everything from Greek tragedy and Ibsen to Pinter and Albee, and that has led Atkins to be revered on both sides of the Atlantic . . . Vanessa Redgrave seems to have direct access to some other world. Judi Dench has the capacity to merge laughter and tears in a single moment. The greatness of Eileen Atkins, who is their peer, lies in her uncanny emotional directness and her ability to make her eyes the window to her soul
Michael Billington, Guardian
For some of us she cannot be on stage enough . . . she makes you feel the particular thing she is doing can only be for you . . . And I would give away all my West End tickets to again watch Eileen Atkins, peerlessly subtle, conjuring up Shakespeare's women - and one of his men - in her one-person show
Susannah Clapp, Observer
Atkins's [memoir] is bliss: so funny and atmospheric and true. It's not only that she has a way of bringing her more antic characters vividly to life ( that goes for Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness as well as the pretentious Madame Yandie). She's honest about herself, too, as content to relate her humiliations as her triumphs
Rachel Cooke, Observer
From anyone else, this would be outrageous name-dropping, but actor Dame Eileen Atkins has gone toe to toe with them all over a career spanning seven decades and countless triumphs, the first few of which are documented in her richly enjoyable memoir, Will She Do?
Radio Times, Book of the Week
Will She Do? displays the emotional intelligence, acute observation, wry humour and above all honesty that distinguish Atkins's acting...this is an exhilarating portrait of an actress who has surmounted seemingly insuperable odds to reach the pinnacle of her profession. The answer to the question in the title is self-evident.
The Spectator
Will there be a further volume? I hope so. Cross and impatient Eileen may be, but as an actress she is at the top of the pyramid, and as a writer she is very fine, with a wit drier than a martini.
Daily Mail
Eileen Atkins's memoir Will She Do? is just a tiny bit better than the one I've recently published. It hurts me deeply to say that, but hers is a glorious book, and fascinating on the English class system. She's only seven years older than me - she's 87 - but she showed me a working-class world I didn't know at all
Miriam Margolyes, Radio Times