Monday, September 30, 2013

Deborah Kerr and The English Reformation

Today is the anniversary of the birth of one of my favorite actresses, Deborah Kerr, in 1921. You might think that there is no connection between that anniversary and the subject of this blog, but you would be wrong!

First, Deborah Kerr played Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's last wife, in the 1953 movie, Young Bess, based on Margaret Irwin's novel of the same title. Parr's Protestant evangelical tendencies are depicted when Henry VIII (played by Charles Laughton, again) accuses her of authorizing an English translation of the Holy Bible without his permission.

Secondly, Kerr played an Irish girl who hates the memory of Oliver Cromwell so much that she won't spend her honeymoon in an inn named the "Cromwell Arms" in the movie titled either The Adventurous or I See a Dark Stranger.

Thirdly, Deborah Kerr played the role of Sister Clodagh in the movie based on Rumer Godden's Black Narcissus. Rumer Godden is one of the authors I mention in my litany of conversions in the last chapter of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation. Interesting, Kathleen Byron, who plays Sister Ruth, the mad, bad nun, also appeared in Young Bess, as Anne Seymour, Edward Seymour's wife.

Finally--and this is obscure indeed--Kerr played Gulielma Maria Springett, William Penn's first wife, in Penn of Pennsylvania, a rather unsuccessful biopic of King James II's ally in the attempt to bring religious freedom to England before the Glorious Revolution of 1688.



  1. Not necessarily a direct connection to your topic, but Kerr also played a missionary sister in "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison".

    1. That's true!--and it's a great movie! What a shame to Hollywood that she never received an Academy Award for one of her performance.