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Sir Ian McKellen is that rarest of characters: a celebrity whose distinguished political and social service has transcended his enormous fame and international stardom to reach far beyond the stage and screen.

The breadth of his endeavour – professional, personal and political – has been truly staggering. Of some four-hundred stage and film roles, there are only three, in his own estimation, of which he has not been proud. Iconic roles have not been in short supply: Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings being perhaps the most universally-recognised and well-loved. Add to all this McKellen’s tireless political activism in the cause of gay equality, and you have a veritable phenomenon.

This intimate and definitive biography probes the heart of the actor, recreating for the reader his greatest stage roles, and exploring the inner man in his personal releationships. It will define in a complete and compelling way what makes him tick, his achievements, and his shortcomings.

McKellen’s life story has been a constantly developing drama. He is an enigmatic and complex being; and parts of the book may be controversial, even explosive, given his consistent ability to shock and surprise.


With his varied career and position as LGBT campaigner, icon Sir Ian McKellen's story is one that delights and inspires
A well-researched, eminently readable book
Benedict Nightingale, THE TIMES
There is serious analysis of McKellen's greatest performances - Iago, Richard III, Gandalf - and some of his less successful ones ... Yet O'Connor also has time for theatre lore and gossip ... It is as much a "voyage of discovery" around British theatre as it is around its subject's psyche, but unless McKellen rethinks his decision and writes his memoirs, this sprawling portrait might be as close as anyone gets.
Victoria Segal, THE SUNDAY TIMES
A revealing and in-depth look at [McKellen's] wide-ranging career and personal relationships
CHOICE magazine
Sir Ian McKellen got cold feet about writing his memoirs, in the end returning a substantial advance to his publisher. In its stead his old friend Garry O'Connor has produced a fascinating account of the actor's life and career - his passions, his craft, his gay rights activism, not to mention his generosity ("Gandalf pays"' is his habitual cry at the end of a meal) ... This is surely the de?nitive McKellen biography.
Alexander Larman, THE OBSERVER
[An] extensive new biography written by Garry O'Connor, whom [McKellen] met 60 years ago when they were students at Cambridge. The book deals with all areas of McKellen's eventful life, professional, personal and political: from his energetic campaigning for gay rights to the time he kissed Tony Blair; his acclaimed Shakespeare roles and his much-loved Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and Widow Twankey in panto; and his close friendships with Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi and Patrick Stewart
[A] fascinating voyage round McKellen
Simon Callow, Guardian
A fascinating biographical study of a stellar acting career - including the secrets that lie behind it