September 15 2016 will mark the centennial of Margaret Lockwood's birth. Just in time for that event is a new biography about Margaret Lockwood, written by Lyndsy Spence. Margaret Lockwood--Queen of the Silver Screen is set to be published by Fantom Films on July 11 2016. Lyndsy Spence is the author of The Mitford Girls' Guide to Life and Mrs Guinness: The Rise and Fall of Diana Mitford. Her book The Mistress of Mayfair: Men, Money and the Marriage of Doris Delevingne is set for release on November 7 2016. Miss Spence has written for everything from The Lady Magazine to BBC Magazine. She also happens to be one of Margaret Lockwood's biggest fans and runs the Margaret Lockwood Society. Following is an interview with Lyndsy Spence regarding Margaret Lockwood--Queen of the Silver Screen.
At least here in the United States, most people discover Margaret Lockwood through The Lady Vanishes or The Wicked Lady. What was the first Margaret Lockwood movie you saw and what impressed you about it?
I think The Wicked Lady or The Man in Grey, as both films were regularly shown on Film 4. She was stunningly beautiful and such a vibrant presence onscreen. When thinking of British actresses of that period, people tend to think of Vivien Leigh, and although I am a massive fan of Leigh, I was drawn to Margaret's British films, as they are quite unlike anything Hollywood was producing at the time. To me, they were more daring, and I suppose that was part of the fun!
With the exception of two Hollywood films, she worked exclusively in British films, and I think that gives her career more scope. Certainly, this makes her a unique star and makes her all the more interesting to someone who is not only a biographer but a fan of classic cinema, too.
There are two autobiographies by Margaret Lockwood (My Life and Films from 1948 and Lucky Star from 1955), as well as Once a Wicked Lady by Hilton Tims. Why did you see the need for another biography about Miss Lockwood?
I've partly answered this below, but to cut a long story short, I was interested in delving into her background a little more. Much has been written about her relationship with her mother and her first and only husband (whom she divorced) but I always felt that fragments from their lives together were missing. I wanted to understand Margaret more as a person than a star, and I felt it was a good starting point to investigate the lives of those who surrounded her and who made an impact on her, in her private life at least.
How did you go about researching the life of Margaret Lockwood?
I read her two autobiographies as well as the biography by Hilton Tims. I also made a list of the relevant people to contact. Of course, the Margaret Lockwood Society helped enormously and several people came forward and offered to share their memorabilia, letters, and personal stories. Aside from gathering information about her career, I was in contact with a Lockwood family historian, Robert Ward, and together we unearthed fascinating information about Margaret's background, which is otherwise unknown by the public. Her daughter and great granddaughter were also very gracious with their time and information.
Margaret Lockwood was the most popular actress in the United Kingdom for much of the Forties and she still has a wide fanbase in the UK, U.S., Canada, and Australia. What do you think her appeal is and why has she remained popular for so long?
From a historical perspective, her place in British cinema is unique. While Hollywood was producing clone after clone of gorgeous brunettes, Britain had Margaret Lockwood. I don't think, in terms of looks (as in being a dark beauty) that she had any competition. Her so-called "rivals", after all, were blondes.
Do you have any other projects in the works?
Yes, I am focusing on historical fiction
Margaret Lockwood-Queen of the Silver Screen is available for pre-order at Fantom Films.