Patricia Neal was an acclaimed star of stage, film, and television for over six decades. From making appearances on Broadway to working alongside many other Hollywood legends, she would make her mark as a performer, eventually earning the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Born in Kentucky and raised in Tennessee, Neal discovered a love of acting and found success in her profession. She would become romantically involved with her The Fountainhead (1949) co-star, Gary Cooper, before marrying author Roald Dahl.
At the height of her career, she suffered a series of strokes and medical problems. Nonetheless, after a trying recovery, she returned to acting and earned her second Academy Award nomination. Neal would also continue to work on television in the years to come.
Stephen Michael Shearer’s Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life explores the life of Neal and is the first critical biography to do so. Shearer relies upon interviews with Neal’s colleagues and friends, in addition to consulting her personal papers, to craft this biography. Since its publication, it was also adapted as a film called To Olivia (2021). Shearer’s work is a thoughtful and honest portrayal of a woman who endured many personal as well as professional setbacks and accomplishments and is well worth reading.