Gay side of Alec Guinness to be revealed in upcoming biography

The [London] Guardian reports that Sheridan Morley’s authorized biography of Sir Alec Guinness will reveal that the character actor, who died in August, was arrested, charged, and fined for a homosexual act in a public lavatory in 1946. At the time he gave the name “Herbert Pocket,” a character from Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, to the authorities, and word never leaked to the press. When the same thing happened to John Gielgud nine years later, he made the mistake of using his actual surname, and the case dogged his career for years. Morley, the son of actor and Gielgud contemporary Robert Morley, said that Guinness’s gay side had “always been known” within the family’s social circle. He points out that “as a character actor he was a sort of spy, which made him good at deception in life as well as art. He was keeping secret this other side of his life. He was very, very high-church and guilt-ridden.” At the time of his arrest, Guinness was married and had a young son.

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