||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2012)|
|Born||Maria Penelope Katharine Aitken
12 September 1945
|Occupation||Actor, writer, producer, director|
|Spouse(s)||1) Richard Durden
2) Nigel Davenport
(1972–1981) one son Jack
3) Patrick McGrath
(1991 to date)
Maria Penelope Katharine Aitken (born 12 September 1945) is an English theatre director, teacher, actress and writer.
Aitken was born in Dublin, the daughter of William Aitken (politician), a Conservative MP, and Penelope Aitken, whose father was John Maffey, 1st Baron Rugby. She is a great-niece of newspaper magnate and war-time minister Lord Beaverbrook. She attended Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset and St Anne's College, Oxford, where she graduated with a degree in English Language and Literature.
She has directed several plays in the West End and on Broadway. Her production of THE 39 STEPS, which is still running in London after 5 years, played 3 years on Broadway and won Olivier and Tony Awards. In 2011 she directed Frank Langella in MAN AND BOY on Broadway. She is a Visiting Lecturer at Yale, NYU and Juilliard drama schools. Her extensive acting career includes leading roles at the Royal National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and in the West End. She has played more Noel Coward leads than any other actress. She was nominated for a BAFTA award for her performance in A Fish Called Wanda.
She is the author of A Girdle Round the Earth, a story of some of the more remarkable women travellers of the last 200 years, and Style: Acting in High Comedy, published in 1996, which contends that "High comedies are not bloodless, refined, wordy plays — their themes are sex, money and social advancement. They contain a splendid contradiction: wit and elegance at the service of man's basest drives."
Aitken is married to the novelist Patrick McGrath and they live together in New York and London. She was previously married to the actor Nigel Davenport and is the mother of actor Jack Davenport. Her brother is the former Conservative politician Jonathan Aitken. She has been a patron of the British Thyroid Foundation since 1992 and was appointed a Trustee of the Noel Coward Foundation in 2012.