Rachel Kempson

Rachel, Lady Redgrave (28 May 1910 – 24 May 2003), known primarily by her birth name Rachel Kempson, was an English actress.[1] She married Sir Michael Redgrave, and was the matriarch of the famous acting dynasty.[2]

Rachel Kempson
Rachel Kempson Allan Warren.jpg
Rachel Kempson in 1974
Born(1910-05-28)28 May 1910
Died24 May 2003(2003-05-24) (aged 92)
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1938–1997
(m. 1935; died 1985)
ChildrenVanessa Redgrave
Corin Redgrave
Lynn Redgrave
FamilyKempson, Redgrave


Kempson trained at RADA before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company. She married Michael Redgrave in 1935 and the couple appeared together many times on stage. She also appeared many times on film and television, most notably in the films The Captive Heart, The Sea Shall Not Have Them (both opposite her husband Michael), The Jokers, Two Gentlemen Sharing, Out of Africa, Uncle Vanya, and the television series Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill (1974) and The Jewel in the Crown. She made three films with her daughter Lynn (Tom Jones, Georgy Girl and The Virgin Soldiers), and two films with her other daughter Vanessa (The Charge of the Light Brigade – which also starred her son Corin – and Déjà Vu). Her 1986 autobiography, Life Among the Redgraves was published by Dutton. According to Publishers Weekly, "Lady Redgrave writes with candour, wit, restraint and some sadness about her background, beginnings in the theatre in 1932, marriage and motherhood, the trials of moving and the problems of being married to a handsome matinee idol."[3][page needed]

Personal lifeEdit

Kempson was born in Dartmouth, Devon, the daughter of Beatrice Hamilton (née Ashwell) and Eric William Edward Kempson, a headmaster.[4]

Kempson married fellow actor Michael Redgrave in 1935, and became the daughter-in-law of Roy Redgrave and Margaret Scudamore. Kempson was the mother of Vanessa (born 1937), Corin (1939–2010) and Lynn Redgrave (1943–2010) and the grandmother of Joely and Natasha Richardson (1963–2009), Jemma Redgrave, Luke Redgrave, Arden Redgrave, Harvey Redgrave, Carlo Gabriel Nero, Benjamin B. Clark, Kelly B. Clark and Annabel Lucy Clark.

In 1959, her husband was knighted and she formally became Lady Redgrave. However, she refused to use her title professionally. In 2003, four days before what would have been her 93rd birthday, she died of a stroke at the home of her granddaughter, Natasha Richardson, in Millbrook, New York. Richardson died on 18 March 2009 in a skiing accident and was buried near Kempson. Kempson's youngest daughter, Lynn Redgrave was also buried in the same cemetery on 8 May 2010, near Kempson and Richardson.


Year Title Role Notes
1941 Jeannie Maggie, Jeannie's sister
1946 The Captive Heart Celia Mitchell
1948 A Woman's Vengeance Emily Maurier
1954 The Sea Shall Not Have Them Mrs. Waltby
1963 Tom Jones Bridget Allworthy
1964 The Third Secret Mildred Hoving
1965 Curse of the Fly Madame Fournier
1966 Georgy Girl Ellen Leamington
1966 Grand Prix Mrs. Stoddard
1967 The Jokers Mrs. Tremayne
1968 The Charge of the Light Brigade Mrs. Codrington
1969 A Touch of Love Sister Henry
1969 Two Gentlemen Sharing Mrs. Ashby-Kydd
1969 The Virgin Soldiers Mrs. Raskin
1970 Jane Eyre Mrs. Fairfax
1980 Little Lord Fauntleroy Lady Lorradaile
1984 Camille Hortense TV film
1984 The Jewel in the Crown Lady Ethel Manners TV film
1985 Out of Africa Lady Belfield
1988 Stealing Heaven Prioress
1991 Uncle Vanya Prioress
1997 Déjà Vu Skelly's Mother


  1. ^ "Rachel Kempson". BFI. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012.
  2. ^ Sandra Brennan. "Rachel Kempson – Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos – AllMovie". AllMovie.
  3. ^ Publishers Weekly
  4. ^ "Rachel Kempson Biography (1910–)". filmreference.com.

External linksEdit