Edith Margaret Emily Ashcroft and Adoption

Peggy Ashcroft in 1962



British Actress

Ashcroft was German Jewish and Danish on her mother's side and English on her father's side. Both her parents (Violetta and William) died before she was 20. She began acting before her parents died, and soon became one of the best-known actresses in the world. She won an Oscar for her role in A Passage to India. Her other films included Madame Sousatzka, When the Wind Blows, Joseph Andrews, Sunday, Bloody Sunday. Three into Two Won't Go, The Nun's Story, and The 39 Steps.

An alternative to the official biography says that Violetta and William were not her birth parents, but that William was the cousin of her birth mother, Elizabeth Ashcroft, an unmarried waitress, that her birth father was Francis Roberts, a naval officer, and that Peggy was adopted to hide the shame of her illegitimacy. This version was reportedly confided by Elizabeth to her daughter, Mary (Elizabeth and Francis later married and had three more children), who claims to be Peggy's full sister. According to Mary, Peggy herself knew the situation for many years but never acknowledged it publicly.


O'Connor, Garry. The Secret Woman: A Life of Peggy Ashcroft. (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997) O'Connor, Garry. "Is This Woman Peggy Ashcroft's Secret Sister?" Daily Mail [London], 6 January 1998, p. 9 Oxford Companion to the Theatre. 4th edition, edited by Phyllis Hartnoll. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983) Cambridge Guide to Theatre, edited by Martin Banham. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)