Yvonne Mitchell

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

Yvonne Mitchell Pencil Portrait
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*Limited edition run of 250 prints only*

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Yvonne Mitchell, born Yvonne Frances Joseph on 7 July 1915 in Brent, to parents Madge and Bertie Joseph and raised in the Jewish faith. She changed her name by deed poll in 1946.

Her film career came after a successful career in theatre. She made her debut film The Queen of Hearts in 1949. (Fans will point out she also starred in Love on the Dole some eight years earlier, but this was uncredited.) Many of the films she appeared are now fondly remembered – as they were critically acclaimed on their release – as British film industry gems including; Turn the Key Softly (1953), Yield to the Night (1956), Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957) for which she received the Silver Bear Best Actress award, Tiger Bay (1959), Sapphire (1959), The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960), Genghis Khan (1965) and Demons of the Mind (1974) for Hammer.

Yvonne was married to the journalist, film and theatre critic and novelist Derek Monsey (1921–1979) and they lived in a village in the south of France. Their daughter is Cordelia Monsey, a theatre director and a long-term associate of both Sir Peter Hall and Sir Trevor Nunn. Although the couple would divorce, they were reconciled afterwards and remarried in 1978, but the happiness was short lived when Monsey died of a heart attack in February 1979. Mitchell herself, would die only a month later at the age of 63 with cancer.

On the small screen, she was voted Television Actress of the Year for 1953 by the Daily Mail newspaper, mainly for her role as Cathy in the Nigel Kneale/Rudolph Cartier adaptation of Emily Brontë’s novel ‘Wuthering Heights.’ The following year, she appeared in another Kneale / Cartier literary adaptation when she took the role of Julia with Peter Cushing as Winston Smith in their adaptation of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four,’ which is still spoken of highly by critics and fans alike. She starred as Lea in the BBC’s 1973 TV production of Colette’s Cheri and continued to act occasionally on television until the late 1970s, mainly starring in guest roles for series such as Out of the Unknown (1966) and Armchair Theatre (1956-68). She retired from acting in 1977, and made her final appearance in the BBC science-fiction series 1990 ( broadcast in 1978).

Away from acting, Mitchell was also an established author, writing several books for children and adults as well as winning awards for playwriting. In 1957 she wrote an acclaimed biography of the French writer Colette, so it came as little surprise to some keenly interested listeners when she selected writing materials as a luxury item when she appeared on the BBC Radio programme Desert Island Discs (1961).. Her autobiography was published in 1957, where she reveals the first thing she wrote was the play “The Same Sky,” which was first produced at the Nottingham Playhouse and which she thought was the best of all its various productions.

Although she is mostly remembered for her film work, at the time of her death she had successfully performed in the theatre for over four decades.