She described herself as "gay" rather than as lesbian and mentioned her relationships with women on several occasions when she appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in September 2008. She has since described herself as a lesbian on the Graham Norton Show in June 2012. On becoming an Australian citizen, on Australia Day (26 January) 2013, Margolyes referred to herself as a 'dyke' live on national television and in front of Prime Minister Gillard. She is a campaigner for a respite care charity, Crossroads.
Margolyes was born in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, the daughter of Ruth (née Walters; 1905-1974), a property investor and developer, and Joseph Margolyes (1899-1996), a physician from Glasgow. She grew up in a Jewish family, her parents are descendants of immigrants from Belarus. She attended the local Oxford High School, at which she also opened the new buildings in March 2011, and later Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read English. There, she began acting in her twenties, and also appeared in productions of the comedy troupe the Cambridge Footlights.
Miriam Margolyes is a British born Australian actress and voice artist. She first went to Australia in 1968, after meeting Heather, her Australian partner of more than 40 years.''All I came to love in Australia, I first came to love through Heather,'' said Margolyes of the woman she met through the family of the famous historian Professor Manning Clark. Eventually, she would like to live permanently at Yarrawa Hill, which she owns with Heather, Australian-born academic but based in Amsterdam.
With her distinctive voice, Margolyes first gained recognition for her work as a voice artist. She recorded a soft-porn audio called Sexy Sonia: Leaves from my Schoolgirl Notebook. She performed most of the supporting female characters in the dubbed Japanese action TV series, Monkey. She also worked with the theatre company Gay Sweatshop and provided voiceovers in the Japanese TV series The Water Margin (credited as Mirium Margolyes).
Margolyes' first major role in a film was as Elephant Ethel in Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers (1977). In the 1980s, she made appearances in Blackadder opposite Rowan Atkinson: these roles include the Spanish Infanta in The Black Adder, Lady Whiteadder in Blackadder II and Queen Victoria in Blackadder's Christmas Carol. In 1986 she played a major supporting role in the BBC drama The Life and Loves of a She-Devil. She won the 1989 LA Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Flora Finching in the 1988 film Little Dorrit. On American television, she headlined the short-lived 1992 CBS sitcom Frannie's Turn. In 1994 she won the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mrs Mingott in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (1993).
Margolyes came to the notice of younger audiences when she starred as Aunt Sponge in James And The Giant Peach (1996); she also provided the voice of the Glow Worm in the same film. Around this time, she voiced the female rabbit character in the animated commercials for Cadbury's Caramel bars and provided the voice of Fly the dog in the animated film Babe (1995). She played Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002.
She was one of the original cast of the London production of the musical Wicked in 2006, playing Madame Morrible opposite Idina Menzel, a role she also played on Broadway in 2008.
In 2009 she appeared in a new production of Endgame by Samuel Beckett at the Duchess Theatre in London's West End.
Margolyes reprised her role as Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011.
Margolyes is a supporter of Sense (the National Deafblind and Rubella Association) and was the host at the first Sense Creative Writing Awards, held at the Charles Dickens Museum in London in December 2006, where she read a number of works written by talented deafblind people.
In 2011, Margolyes recorded a narrative for the album The Devil's Brides by klezmer musician-ethnographer Yale Strom.
She appeared on the British television quiz University Challenge in 1963, whilst at Cambridge University. As part of a BBC documentary University Challenge: The Story so Far she claimed that during her appearance, she swore after getting a question wrong, although the actual word was bleeped out of the recording.
Margolyes is a lifelong admirer of the works of Charles Dickens and has performed all over the world a one-woman show, Dickens' Women, in which she plays 23 characters from Dickens' novels.
Margolyes is a Palestinian human rights activist, having been a member of the British-based ENOUGH! coalition that seeks to end the "Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank." She is also a signatory of Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
Margolyes divides her time between homes in London and Robertson, New South Wales.
Dickens' Women by Sonia Fraser and Miriam Margolyes
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Hesperus Press (February 1, 2012)
Amazon: Dickens' Women
Amazon Kindle: Dickens' Women
A celebration of the singular female characters to be found in Dickens's works
In his novels Dickens presents a series of unrivaled portraits of women, young and old. From Little Nell to Miss Havisham, these girls and women speak to audiences today, making readers laugh and sometimes cry. The popular British actress Miriam Margolyes will be touring the world in 2012, the bicentenary of Dickens birth, with a one-woman show about Dickens' women, and this book accompanies the show by building on the script and expanding to include many more of the female characters Dickens described and analyzed so astutely in his novels. "Mrs Pipchin was a marvellous ill-favoured, ill-conditioned old lady, of a stooping figure, with a mottled face, like bad marble, a hook nose, and a hard grey eye, that looked as if it might have been hammered at on an anvil without sustaining any injury."
More Real Life Romances at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
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