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as Elizabeth I of England in
Fire Over England (1937)
|Born||Flora McKenzie Robson
28 March 1902
South Shields, England
|Died||7 July 1984
Brighton, Sussex, England
Early life 
Robson was born in South Shields, County Durham (now Tyne and Wear), of Scottish descent to a family of six siblings. Many of her forebears were engineers, mostly in shipping. Her father was a ship's engineer who moved from Wallsend to Palmers Green in 1907 and Southgate in 1910 and later Welwyn Garden City.
Her father discovered that Flora had a talent for recitation and, from the age of five, she was taken around by horse and carriage to recite, and to compete in recitations. This established a pattern that remained with her.
Robson made her stage debut in 1921, aged 19. She specialised in character roles, notably that of Queen Elizabeth I in both Fire Over England (1937) and The Sea Hawk (1940). At the age of 32, Robson played the Empress Elizabeth in Alexander Korda's Catherine the Great (1934). She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Ingrid Bergman's servant in Saratoga Trunk (1945). That same year audiences in the U.K. and the U.S. watched her hypnotic performance as nursemaid and royal confidante Ftatateeta, to Vivien Leigh's Queen Cleopatra, in the screen adaptation of George Bernhard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra (1945).
After the war, demonstrating her range, she appeared in Holiday Camp (1947), the first of a series of films which featured the very ordinary Huggett family; as Sister Philippa in Black Narcissus (1947); as a magistrate in Goodtime Girl (1948); as a prospective Labour MP in Frieda (1947); and in costume melodrama, Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948). Her other film roles included the Queen of Hearts in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972), Livia in the abortively-attempted I, Claudius (1937), Miss Milchrest in Murder at the Gallop (1963).
She acted late into life, latterly for American television films, including a lavish production of A Tale of Two Cities (in which she played Miss Pross). She also gave performances for British television, including The Shrimp and the Anemone. She also continued to act in the West End, in such plays as Ring Round the Moon, The Importance of Being Earnest and Three Sisters.
Robson essentially retired from the theatre in the early 1970s, her last role being as a Stygian Witch in the fantasy adventure Clash of the Titans in 1981. Both the BBC and ITV made special programmes to celebrate her 80th birthday in 1982 and the BBC ran a short season of her best films.
She was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1952, and raised to Dame Commander (DBE) in 1960, an award which was partly for her charity work, largely unnoticed, which she carried on until her death, often for small and rather obscure charities rather than the grand ones which would have given her more publicity. She was also the first famous name to become President of the Brighton Little Theatre. She had a street named after her, Dame Flora Robson Avenue, in Simonside, South Shields, England.
Personal life and death 
Her private life was largely focused on her large family of sisters, nephews and nieces, who used the home in Wykeham Terrace, Brighton, which she shared with sisters, Margaret and Shela.
She died in Brighton, possibly from cancer, aged 82, although the exact cause was never revealed. She had never been married or had any children. The two sisters, with whom she shared her life and home, died around the same time: Shela shortly before Flora, in 1984, and Margaret on 1 February 1985.
Dame Flora Robson Avenue, built in 1962, in Simonside, South Shields is named after her. There is a plaque on their house in Wykeham Terrace, Dyke Road, Brighton, and also one in the doorway of St. Nicholas's Church, just up the hill from their house and of which Flora Robson was a great supporter.
There is also a plaque to commemorate the opening of the Prince Charles Theatre (Leicester Square, London) by Flora Robson.
In 1996, the British Film Institute erected a plaque at number 14 Marine Gardens, location of Flora's other home in Brighton, where she lived from 1961 to 1976.
A plaque at 40 Handside Lane in Welwyn Garden City records Flora Robson living there from 1923 to 1925.
A blue plaque sponsored by Southgate District Civic Trust and Robson's former school Palmers Green High School was unveiled at her family home from 1910 to 1921, The Lawe, 65, The Mall, Southgate on 25 April 2010.
Partial filmography 
- A Gentleman of Paris (1931)
- Dance Pretty Lady (1932)
- One Precious Year (1933)
- Catherine the Great (1934)
- Fire Over England (1937)
- Farewell Again (1937)
- Wuthering Heights (1939)
- Poison Pen (1939)
- We Are Not Alone (1939)
- Invisible Stripes (1939)
- The Sea Hawk (1940)
- Bahama Passage (1941)
- Two Thousand Women (1944)
- Saratoga Trunk (1945)
- Great Day (1945)
- Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)
- The Years Between (1946)
- Black Narcissus (1947)
- Frieda (1947)
- Holiday Camp (1947)
- Good-Time Girl (1948)
- Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948)
- Malta Story (1953)
- Romeo and Juliet (1954)
- High Tide at Noon (1957)
- No Time for Tears (1957)
- Innocent Sinners (1958)
- The Gypsy and the Gentleman (1958)
- 55 Days at Peking (1963)
- Murder at the Gallop (1963)
- Guns at Batasi (1964)
- Young Cassidy (1965)
- Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965)
- 7 Women (1966)
- David Copperfield (1966)
- Eye of the Devil (1966)
- The Shuttered Room (1967)
- Cry in the Wind (1967)
- The Beloved (1970)
- The Beast in the Cellar (1970)
- Fragment of Fear (1970)
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972)
- Dominique (1980)
- Clash of the Titans (1981)
Theatre performances 
- Queen Margaret in Will Shakespeare at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, 1921
- Shakespearean repertory with Ben Greet's company, 1922
- JB Fagan's company at the Oxford Playhouse, 1923
- Two seasons at the Festival Theatre, Cambridge, 1929–30
- Abbey Putnam in Desire Under the Elms at the Gate Theatre, London, 1931
- Herodias in Salome at the Gate Theatre, London, 1931
- Mary Paterson in The Anatomist at the Westminster Theatre, London, 1931
- Stepdaughter in Six Characters in Search of an Author at the Westminster Theatre, London, 1932
- Bianca in Othello at the St. James' Theatre, London, 1932
- Olwen Peel in Dangerous Corner at the Lyric Theatre, London, 1932
- Eva in For Services Rendered at the Globe Theatre, London, 1932
- Ella Downey in All God's Chillun Got Wings at the Embassy Theatre, Swiss Cottage, 1933
- A season at the Old Vic, London, 1933–34
- Lady Catherine Brooke in Autumn at the St. Martin's Theatre, London, 1937
- Ellen Creed in Ladies in Retirement at the Henry Miller's Theatre, New York, 1940
- Sarah, Duchess of Malborough in Anne of England at the St. James Theatre, New York, 1941
- Rhoda Meldrum in The Damask Cheek at the Playhouse Theatre, New York, 1942–43
- Thérèse Raquin in Guilty at the Lyric, Hammersmith, 1944
- Lady Macbeth in Macbeth at the National Theatre, New York, 1948
- Lady Cicely Waynflete in Captain Brassbound's Conversion at the Lyric, Hammersmith, 1948
- Christine in Black Chiffon, at the Westminster Theatre, 1949 and the 48th Street Theatre, New York, 1950
- Lady Catherine Brooke in Autumn at the Q Theatre, London, 1951
- Paulina in The Winter's Tale at the Phoenix Theatre, London, 1951
- The Return at the Duchess Theatre, London, 1953–54
- Janet in The House By the Lake at the Duke of York's Theatre, London, 1956
- Mrs Alving in Ghosts at the Old Vic, 1958–59 and the Prince's Theatre, London, 1959
- Miss Tina in The Aspern Papers at the Queen's Theatre, London, 1959 and on tour to South Africa, 1960
- Grace Rovarte in Time and Yellow Roses at the St. Martin's Theatre, London, 1961
- Miss Moffatt in The Corn is Green at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing, the Flora Robson Playhouse, Newcastle upon Tyne and on tour to South Africa, 1962
- Gunhild in John Gabriel Borkman at the Duchess Theatre, London, 1963
- Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Flora Robson Playhouse, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1964
- Hecuba in The Trojan Women at the Edinburgh Festival, 1966
- Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London, 1968
- Mother in Ring Round the Moon at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London, 1968
- Agatha Payne in The Old Ladies at the Duchess Theatre, London, 1969
- Elizabeth I in Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England at the Edinburgh Festival, 1970
- GRO Register of Births: JUN 1902 10a 829 S. SHIELDS - Flora McKenzie Robson
- "Blue plaque unveiled at former home of Hollywood star". Enfield Independent. 27 April 2010.
- Flora Robson at the Internet Movie Database
- Flora Robson at the Internet Broadway Database
- Flora Robson performances in the Theatre Archive, University of Bristol