World of arts and politics pay tribute to Glenda Jackson

Tributes have poured in following the death of Birkenhead-born actor and former Labour MP, Glenda Jackson.

Jackson was born on 9 May 1936 at 151 Market Street in Birkenhead. Glenda Farrell, a renowned Hollywood film star, served as the inspiration for her name, chosen by her mother.

Soon after her birth, the family relocated to Hoylake. Living in humble conditions, they resided in a small two-up two-down house at 21 Lake Place, complete with an outdoor toilet. Jackson’s father, Harry, worked as a builder, while her mother, Joan (formerly Pearce), juggled various jobs, including working in a local shop, serving in a pub, and working as a domestic cleaner.

The eldest of four daughters, Jackson embarked on her educational journey at Holy Trinity Church of England and Cathcart Street primary schools. Subsequently, she attended West Kirby County Grammar School for Girls. During her teenage years, she showcased her talent by participating in the drama group of the Townswomen’s Guild.

Jackson’s acting debut took place in 1952 when she appeared in J. B. Priestley’s play “Mystery of Greenfingers” for the YMCA Players in Hoylake. Prior to this, she spent two years working at Boots the Chemists.

In 1954, fortune smiled upon her when she earned a scholarship to study at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. Consequently, in early 1955, Jackson relocated to the capital to commence her studies at RADA.

She was one of the few performers to achieve the American Triple Crown of Acting, having won two Academy Awards, three Emmy Awards, and a Tony Award. She was appointed CBE by Queen Elizabeth II in 1978.

She won an Oscar for Best Actress twice, for the romance films Women in Love (1970) and A Touch of Class (1973), but did not appear in person to collect either due to work commitments.

She also won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971). Her other notable performances include Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), Hedda (1975), The Incredible Sarah (1976) and Hopscotch (1980).

She won two Primetime Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in the BBC series Elizabeth R (1971). She received both the British Academy Television Award for Best Actress and International Emmy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Elizabeth Is Missing (2019).

From 1992 to 2015, Jackson took a hiatus from acting and embarked on a career in politics. In the 1992 general election, she secured victory as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hampstead and Highgate, representing the Labour Party.

During Tony Blair’s government, she served as a junior transport minister between 1997 and 1999, but her stance on Blair gradually shifted to become critical of his policies. Following changes in constituency boundaries, she then went on to represent Hampstead and Kilburn starting from 2010.

During the 2010 general election, Jackson experienced a nail-biting victory with a razor-thin majority of 42 votes, confirmed only after a recount. This slim margin made it the narrowest victory in that particular parliament. However, she chose not to seek re-election and stepped down from her position at the 2015 general election, subsequently returning to her acting career.

In a statement on Thursday, Jackson’s agent Lionel Larner said, “Glenda Jackson, two-time Academy Award-winning actress and politician, died peacefully at her home in Blackheath, London this morning after a brief illness with her family at her side.

“She recently completed filming The Great Escaper in which she co-starred with Michael Caine.”

Michael Caine first acted with Jackson in 1975 in The Romantic Englishwoman. Following their recent reunion, he said, “It was as wonderful an experience this time as it was 50 years ago. I shall miss her.” In a further tweet, he said, “Glenda Jackson was one of my first leading ladies. I am so proud she was my final leading lady. She was truly brilliant in the film we made last year, The Great Escaper.”

Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP who now sits in Jackson’s former seat of Hampstead and Kilburn, tweeted, “Devastated to hear that my predecessor Glenda Jackson has died.

“A formidable politician, an amazing actress and a very supportive mentor to me. Hampstead and Kilburn will miss you Glenda.”

Wirral Council leader and Labour Councillor for Seacombe, Paul Stuart said, “It is very sad to hear of Glenda Jackson’s passing. An award winning actress, campaigner, activist, Labour MP and government minister, Glenda Jackson was always fighting for human rights and social justice. Thoughts are with Glenda’s family, friends and loved ones. RIP Glenda.”

In a tweet, a Tranmere Rovers spokesperson said, “The Club was saddened yesterday to hear of the passing of Glenda Jackson, an acting great, former MP, and one of Birkenhead’s own. She believed in people supporting their local team and, when asked, would always say that she supported Tranmere. She will be greatly missed.”

Jackson’s son, Dan Hodges responded to well-wisher’s messages by saying, “Just wanted to say thank you for all the lovely messages and tributes about my mum. She’d have told everyone to stop making such a fuss, but deep down she would have been very touched.”

TV presenter Carol Vorderman said, “To see this unique woman turn into a firebrand in politics was deeply impressive for young girls like me. May she rest in peace.”

Labour MP for Wirral West, Margaret Greenwood said, “I’m saddened to hear that Glenda Jackson has passed away. She was inspirational: a titan of theatre, film and politics – she will be greatly missed. My thoughts are with her family and loved ones at this sad time.”

Former US Presidential candidate and First Lady, Hilary Clinton said, “I was a big fan of Glenda Jackson, both as an actor and as a politician. She was an epic talent, a passionate advocate, and simply extraordinary.”

Labour MP for Birkenhead, Mick Whitley said, “Birkenhead has once again lost one of its own. Glenda Jackson was one of the finest actors of her generation and a deeply principled Labour MP, whose fearlessness and independent spirit was as clear to see on the Commons floor as on the stage and screen.”

Hercule Poirot actor, David Suchet said, “I had the great privilege of sharing the stage at the RSC with the great Glenda Jackson. She was a wonderful Cleopatra – a role she reprised with Morecambe and Wise! One of our truly very great actors.”

Former Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said, “Glenda Jackson was both the best actress of our generation and an incredibly principled passionate and eloquent advocate of social justice as an MP and as a government minister. I will remember her as a friend whom I admired greatly and what she achieved will never be forgotten”

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, said, “RIP to Birkenhead’s own Glenda Jackson, a two-time Oscar winner and a formidable politician. Our thoughts are with her loved ones at this difficult time.”

Alison McGovern, Labour MP for Wirral South said, “An incredible career in art and politics. What a contribution made. Thinking of her family and loved ones and knowing that everyone in the Wirral very proud of her. And will always remember the sound of her singing wafting down the corridor from her office. Great woman.”

Dame Angela Eagle, Labour MP for Wallasey said, “We have lost an actress of superlative talent and a politician who never pulled her punches. I was privileged to work with her as a Minister and in Parliament Her King Lear was truly extraordinary. RIP condolences to her friends and family.”

Glenda Jackson in 2022. Credit: Raph_PH – CC BY 2.0,

Glenda May Jackson CBE (9 May 1936 – 15 June 2023)

Main image: Glenda Jackson (public domain)

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