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Best kwn as an acclaimed velist, Beryl Bainbridge is also a former actor. Expelled from school in Liverpool at the age of fourteen, she determined to tread the boards, joining the Liverpool Playhouse Theatre Company as an assistant stage manager. Here she received a unique form of education, reading Shakespeare and Ibsen, and eventually graduating from the role of a dog to the part of a boy mathematical genius for which she had to have her hair cut. Later she appeared in two early episodes of Coronation Street as Ken Barlow's girlfriend. Her love of the theatre endured after she became among the best-loved writers of her generation. One of her most successful vels, An Awfully Big Adventure , drew on her theatrical experiences, and she has often written about the theatre, in her former column in The Standard , and more recently, in the monthly theatre reviews she writes for The Oldie . Front Row is a collection of Beryl Bainbridge's best writing about the theatre. It contains fascinating insights into the work of such contemporaries as Alan Bennett, Alan Rickman and Ronald Harwood, alongside amusing sketches of the actors Bainbridge worked with in her early years, including Judith Chalmers and Billie Whitelaw. And in her autobiographical introduction, Beryl Bainbridge evokes all the magic that the footlights possess for her.
Dame Beryl Bainbridge is one of the most succesful and loved contemporary novelists. Her recent novels have included An Awfully Big Adventure, Master Georgie, The Birthday Boys and According to Queenie. She lives in Camden Town in London.