POSTED November 12 2012

Richard Burton, diarist and Elizabethan

Richard Burton and his Elizabeth I & II

Richard Burton possessed one of the distinctive voices of the 20th century. He also, as the  publication of his diaries demonstrates, possessed a distinctive literary voice. The chronicle of what he read, what he ate, what he drank and what he and twice-bride Elizabeth Taylor talked and fought about, shows that at very least he would have been a lively book critic and perhaps, had his liver not been compromised by his alcoholic intake, a published storyteller himself.

In matters of food and drink, he was an omnivore. In matters of love, an Elizabethan. In matters of self-criticism, he worried that he has played so many famous men that “I shall have delusions of reflected grandeur.”

I found the book immensely entertaining and intermittently revealing, ranking alongside Alec Guinness’ Blessings in Disguise and Mae West’s Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It for reading pleasure.

Your favorite actor memoirs? Alternatively, favorite Burton performance? I love the young Burton in My Cousin Rachel and the mid-period Burton in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.


  1. Miz Val says:

    Burton was too intense for me. Like a werewolf on crack when he drank and his lust for Elizbeth still remains a puzzle to me. When I watched “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woof” I felt like the acting was hitting a little too close to their home.

  2. wwolfe says:

    I enjoyed Edward G. Robinson’s memoirs. He provided good descriptions of his fellow actors, with those of Jean Arthur and Miriam Hopkins being particularly memorable.

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