Jonathan Croall

All is Fortune, which draws on my lifelong experience of the theatre, is my second book of fiction. The first was Sent Away, a novel for young adults, which was about the scandal of children being sent out to Australia, Canada and South Africa during the twentieth century. Otherwise I have concentrated on non-fiction, especially theatre.

As a theatre historian and biographer I have written acclaimed biographies of the actors John Gielgud and Sybil Thorndike. My book The Coming of Godot: A Short History of a Masterpiece was nominated for the 2005 Theatre Book Prize. My two most recent theatre books are Performing King Lear and Performing Hamlet, published by Bloomsbury in their Arden Shakespeare series. I have also written Don’t You Know There’s a War On? Voices from the Home Front, an oral history of the second world war.

During this time I have been the editor of the National Theatre’s magazine StageWrite and programme editor at the Old Vic theatre. I am also a regular compiler of theatre entries for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. I have written a stage play about Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood, and a radio drama about the stormy relationship between Bernard Shaw and the celebrated actress Mrs Patrick Campbell.

I have two sons, and live in Putney in south-west London with my partner, the playwright Lesley Bruce.


Jonathan Croall's Books

ISBN: 9781915603814


All is Fortune: And Other Theatre Stories

28 Jun 2023

This unusual collection of short stories captures the essence of life in the theatre. Behind the superficial glamour lies a world marked by ambition, jealousy and heartache.

Among stories featured in All is Fortune are an actress under stress at an audition, a struggling playwright committing a deception, a biographer falling out with his subject, a female playwright suffering sexual harassment, and many others. Lighter stories tell of the mysterious disappearance of a member of an amateur dramatic society, the unrequited love of a chorus girl in a musical, and a monologue by an elderly jobbing actor.

Jonathan Croall, a leading theatre historian and biographer, and the son of well-known actors, has created these imaginative stories with warmth, insight and humour, bringing vividly to life a host of well-drawn characters.

'Jonathan Croall has written extensively and illuminatingly about acting and actors. In these stories he attempts something different, a sequence of shiny, shard-like vignettes – some ironic, some poetic, some straightforwardly realistic – which reflect the life of the theatre in all its many aspects. Haunting.’ Simon Callow, actor and writer


Jonathan Croall is a theatre historian and biographer living in London. His books include acclaimed biographies of John Gielgud and Sybil Thorndike, and Buzz Buzz!, a collection of interviews with playwrights, actors and directors working at the National Theatre. Other titles include Performing Hamlet and Performing King Lear in the Arden Shakespeare series, and the inside story of Peter Hall’s productions of The Bacchai and Waiting for Godot.