Coral Browne: ‘This Effing Lady’ (Oberon 2007)

Say what you will, Coral’s wit made every day an adventure, as you can read with laugh-out-loud joy in Rose Collis’ wonderful biography.

Victoria Price

Read Victoria Price’s insightful and moving blog about her ‘wicked stepmother’:

Described by Alan Bates as ‘mischievous, alarming, unpredictable and outrageous’, the indomitable Coral Browne towered over the British and American stage for nearly half a century. Prodigiously talented and highly unconventional, Coral Browne also garnered a legendary reputation for her acid wit, which spawned a thousand ‘Coral Browne’ stories, still repeated today.

She is probably best remembered for a series of iconic performances in films such as The Killing of Sister George, Auntie Mame, Dreamchild and The Ruling Class. But arguably her most memorable role was as herself: in the 1982 TV film, An Englishman Abroad, written by Alan Bennett and directed by John Schlesinger, for which she received the 1983 BAFTA for Best Actress.

She was also renowned for her generosity and commitment to her friends, including Vivien Leigh, Alec Guinness, John Schlesinger, Barry Humphries, Eileen Atkins, Jean Marsh, Alan Bennett,  Patrick White, Angus McBean and Roddy McDowall. In This Effing Lady, Rose Collis draws upon interviews with friends and family, including Victoria Price, Prunella Scales, Dame Eileen Atkins, Ned Sherrin, Sheridan Morley, Pam Gems, Jill Melford, Sarah Badel, Gavin Millar and Liza Goddard, and a wealth of rare archive material and previously unpublished correspondence between Coral and Alec Guinness, Vincent Price, Guy Burgess, John Schlesinger, Alan Bates, Alan Bennett and many others, to produce an immaculately researched and witty account of the life of a remarkable and original star.

Coral Browne: ‘This Effing Lady’ was launched in October 2007 with a sell-out ‘Platform’ event at the Cottesloe, Royal National Theatre, with a star-studded audience including Prunella Scales, Timothy West, Julian Glover, Isla Blair, Frith Banbury and Pam Gems.


‘Hugely enjoying the book’

Prunella Scales

‘It is a most compelling book.’

Nigel Havers

‘Rose Collis’s biography is hugely entertaining and awesomely well researched… [her] witty book goes beyond fag-hagiography to show Coral’s faults as well as the generous spirit which made her  “Darling Coral” to so many.’

Daily Mail

‘Her book is elegant and moving, a hoot…’

Daily Telegraph

‘The fruitiest Browne anecdotes are contained within this poisonously enjoyable book…Collis tells you when she detects the musty smell of theatrical apocrypha…’

Independent on Sunday

‘Miss Collis…recognises and recounts, with cutting clarity, the less savoury side of the aging, fading star.’

The Spectator

‘Her extraordinary life, loves and career are captured in this thoroughly researched and absorbing biography.’

TNT Top 10 Books Of The Year: No.3, Coral Browne: ‘This Effing Lady’

‘Rose Collis interviewed scores of Coral Browne’s surviving friends and travelled more than forty thousand miles to gather the material that makes “This Effing Lady” such a delight.’

360 Magazine

‘Rose Collis’s admirable biography perfectly captures the wicked wit and the sheer fun of the woman.’


‘Witty and well-researched in the capable hands of Rose Collis.’


‘Delightful and informative biography’

The Guide (US)

‘An immaculately researched and correspondingly witty account of a remarkable and truly original star.

Dress Circle

Coral Browne: ‘This Effing Lady’ is on sale via Amazon: