British screenwriter and film director Terence Davies has died aged 77 following a “short illness”, his manager has said.
Davies established himself on the cinematic map in the late 1970s and early 1980s with his trilogy of autobiographical films titled Children, Madonna And Child, Death And Transfiguration – and went on to make nine more feature films.
Most recently, Slow Horses star Jack Lowden and Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi led his Netflix drama Benediction, based on the life of English poet Siegfried Sassoon, also starring late actor Julian Sands.
Manager John Taylor said in a statement given to the PA news agency: “I am deeply saddened to announce the death of Terence Davies, who died peacefully at home in his sleep after a short illness on Saturday October 7 2023.”
The statement added the Latin words “Umbra Sumus”, from poet Horace, and an extract from British writer Christina Rossetti’s poem titled When I Am Dead, My Dearest – both of which had significance to Davies.
Born in Liverpool, Davies worked as a clerk in a shipping office and a book-keeper in an accountancy firm for 10 years before enrolling at the Coventry Drama school in 1973.
In 1988, the filmmaker won the Cannes International Critics Prize for Distant Voices, Still Lives – a film drawn from his own family memories of a working class life in 1940s and 1950s Liverpool.
A host of famous faces have also starred in his films, including Sex Education star Gillian Anderson – who played socialite Lily Bart in Davies’ 2000 adaptation of Edith Wharton’s The House Of Mirth.
While Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz played Hester Collyer in Davies’ 2011 adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s 1952 play The Deep Blue Sea, about a forbidden love and the fear of loneliness.
British model and actress Agyness Deyn played Chris Guthrie in his 2015 adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song, about her journey from schoolgirl to womanhood, and motherhood to widowhood – set after the first World War.
And in 2016, Sex And The City star Cynthia Nixon played 19th century poet Emily Dickinson in A Quiet Passion, written and directed by Davies.