Dame Judi Dench (1934-)
Judith Olivia Dench was born in York and was raised a Quaker. She was educated at The Mount School in York. Before starting her professional career she was involved in the first three productions of the modern revival of the York Mystery Plays in the 1950s. Most famously, she played the role of the Virgin Mary in the 1957 production, performed on a fixed stage in the Museum Gardens.
She received her dramatic training at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London and made her professional debut as Ophelia in Hamlet in Liverpool in 1957. She subsequently spent several seasons in repertory in Oxford and Nottingham. In 1961, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and made numerous appearances with the company in Stratford and London over the next two decades, winning several best actress awards.
Dame Judi has also made numerous appearances in the West End and with the National Theatre in London. She is a multiple winner of the main awards for performances on the London stage, including a record six Laurence Olivier Awards.
Her late-life film career has been remarkably successful. Until 1997, she had made relatively few film appearances. She has racked up six Oscar nominations in nine years for Mrs Brown in 1997, her Oscar-winning turn in Shakespeare in Love in 1998, for Chocolat in 2000, for the lead role of writer Iris Murdoch in Iris in 2001, for Mrs Henderson Presents in 2005, and for Notes on a Scandal in 2006.
She was awarded the OBE in 1970, became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1988, and a Companion of Honour in 2005.