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Sir Alec Guinness

32 of 33 portraits of Sir Alec Guinness

Sir Alec Guinness

by Bill Brandt
bromide print on card mount, 1952
12 3/4 in. x 11 in. (323 mm x 278 mm)
Purchased, 1970
Photographs Collection
NPG x9230

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Bill Brandt (1904-1983), Photographer. Artist of 120 portraits, Sitter in 34 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Clerk, Honor, The Sitwells, 1994 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 14 October - 22 January 1995), p. 156 Read entry

    Merula, wife of the actor (Sir) Alec Guinness (b.1914) was distantly related to the Sitwells, and Guinness, finding himself with his young family on leave in Sheffield during the war rang Edith up. 'She instantly invited us all to Renishaw for the weekend. She made a great thing about Osbert having to he kept from knowing there was a baby in the house. Babies were supposed to make him ill.’1 Guinness returned for other visits; Edith knitted him a pair of socks. 'very long and curiously shaped with two left feet '2, and they began a friendship that deepened with Edith’s conversion to Catholicism. Guinness, already a convert, attended her reception at Farm St and the lunch party at the Sesame Club afterwards. Edith dedicated the poem 'Invocation', published in Green Song (1944) to Alec and Merula Guinness.

    1 Quoted in John Pearson, Façades, Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell, 1978, pp 347-8.

    2 Ibid.

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Events of 1952back to top

Current affairs

King George VI is found dead in his bed in Sandringham; he had been suffering from lung cancer. His daughter Elizabeth, who was in Kenya at the time, became Queen, the only monarch not to know the precise moment of her accession as her father was alone when he died. Elizabeth was crowned the following year.

Art and science

Samuel Beckett's play, Waiting for Godot is performed for the first time in Paris. The play belongs to the Theatre of the Absurd style, which influenced playwrights such as Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard.
Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap opens in London. It is still going.


Mau Mau rebels in Kenya rise up against the British colonial administration. The rebellion was sparked by the growing poverty of the native farmers under the rule of white settlers and called for Kenyan independence. The violence of the rebels, who often murdered settlers and loyalists, was met by the indiscriminate suppression by the British Military, who executed hundreds of suspects.

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