18 June 2023 / Theatre Book Prize

Oliver Ford Davies has won the STR Theatre Book Prize!

image: Tim West, president of the STR, presenting the Book Prize to Oliver Ford Davies

At a reception at the Actor’s Church, St Paul’s Covent Garden, when the Theatre Book Prize presentation formed part of the Society’s 75th Anniversary celebration, President Timothy West announced this year’s winner of STR’s Theatre Book Prize as

An Actor’s Life in 12 Productions by Oliver Ford Davies, published by Book Guild

An Actor’s Life in Twelve Productions by Oliver Ford Davies (Book Guild)
An Actor’s Life in Twelve Productions by Oliver Ford Davies (Book Guild)


An Actor’s Life is a study of British theatre through a varied acting career spanning over sixty years that explores the many changes within the performing arts scene through Oliver Ford Davies’ experiences on various stages, in a variety of productions, across the country. Davies charts the ups and downs of British theatre in the last sixty years, while offering a unique perspective on life behind the curtain and the daring journey from leaving behind an academic career and into acting.


From Shakespeare to Shaw, Chekhov to Pirandello, this is the story of an actor initially struggling to make a mark before making his breakthrough at fifty, winning the Olivier Best Actor award and being propelled into thirty years of leading roles.


Judges Jennifer Thorp, William Purefoy and Cindy Marcolina in St Paul’s Covent Garden

As is our usual practice the judges spoke about the short-list titles and some of their other favourites and judge William Purefoy said of An Actor’s Life:

“I loved this book from the very beginning largely because of its engaging, almost conversational style but also because of its honesty and humility. I found it extremely saddening to read in such illuminating and erudite terms of the almost entire extinction of the world of regional repertory theatre, a loss which seems simultaneously irretrievable and tragic. The way Oliver describes his early career, and the development of his craft speaks of opportunities never likely to be available again, but luckily he goes on to fill one with hope for the future, the feeling that Theatreland is still thriving… There are also lovely insights into how productions work, how actors develop roles, how plays are living entities which organically change in rehearsal and so much more.”


Watch a video recording of the event on the Actor’s Church YouTube channel.

For more about the STR’s Theatre Book Prize through its 25 splendid years, see the Book Prize Page here