24 September 2020 / Obituaries

Barbara Jefford 1930-2020 as Isabella in Measure for Measure 1950

Saint Joan in 1960

Barbara Jefford died on 12th September aged 90.

Gregory Doran of the RSC called her “undoubtedly one of the greatest classical actors of the century, with a remarkable command of the musicality of Shakespeare’s language, and a formidable presence on stage”, while critic Michael Billington recalled seeing her play three major roles in one week in 1960:  “On Monday….she was a darkly intense Lady Macbeth.  On Wednesday she was Shaw’s Saint Joan – fervent, bright-eyed, brimming with faith…..  On Saturday she was a crisply acidulous, very funny Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest. There didn’t seem anything Jefford couldn’t play.”

 She had been a member of the Society for Theatre Research since 1959 and in 1992 gave an address and unveiled a plaque to Ann Oldfield at 60 Grosvenor Street, London W1.