"I suppose my luck is You, Ann and Dad and more so if I could really write", Annie Eliza Courtenay. Tom Courtenay was born in Hull in 1937 and brought up near the fish dock where his father worked. When he left home for university, his mother, Annie, wrote to him every week and when her letters became more searching and more intimate in response to Tom's unhappiness he kept every one, not knowing that after her early death they were to become his most treasured possession. Tom has selected the best of them to go in this book and interwoven with them a portrait of what was going on in his life at the time, in the heady days of the early Sixties when successful young working-class actors were coming to the fore for the first time. Annie's letters are wise and funny, with a natural instinct for words, but also deeply painful. She knows she's worthy of a better, more creative life, but she hasn't been given the chance. Partly a memoir of a working-class way of life that has gone for ever, partly a moving record of the love between mother and son, partly a portrait of the artist as a young actor, "Dear Tom" should excite admiration and delight in equal measure.
Tom Courtenay shot to fame in the early Sixties with a string of successful films - The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Billy Liar and Dr Zhivago to name but a few. Since then he has worked mainly in the theatre, but has also starred in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, created the part of Norman in The Dresser on both stage and screen, performed solo in the brilliant Russian dissident play Moscow Stations in Edinburgh, London and New York, created the role of Serge in the original West End production of Art and played King Lear at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. His latest film is Last Orders? He was knighted in the 2001 New Year's Honours List. Dear Tom is his first book.