Patrick Stewart was born in Mirfield, Yorkshire, on July 13, 1940. His father was a career soldier; his mother worked in industrial weaving. Because Mirfield, a river valley settlement of some 12,000 people, had a rich culture for a provincial town of its size, Stewart's stage experience started early. His involvement was encouraged when, at the age of twelve while in secondary school, he enrolled in an eight-day drama course, where he met some professional people who were very influential in his life.
Thereafter, his participation in local amateur dramatics increased steadily, even after he quit school at fifteen to work as a reporter. However, his employer resented his dedication to the local theater and finally, after a little more than a year of Stewart's less than dedicated reporting, he issued Stewart an ultimatum forcing him to choose between acting and journalism. Although it was a very good job, Stewart quit and, out of spite, became determined to prove himself as a professional actor.
To save money for training, he worked for a year as a furniture salesman; then, after consulting the professionals he had met, he enrolled in the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 1957 at age seventeen. He spent two years there, learning his craft and losing his accent. Stewart speaks of almost living a "double life" during this period, for while he spoke with Received Pronunciation professionally, he continued speaking with his native Yorkshire accent and dialect with family and friends.
After leaving school, Stewart was never out of work, despite a warning from an instructor who told him that his baldness would make him a young character actor rather than a juvenile lead. In fact, Stewart was able to land jobs by convincing directors that with a toupee he could play both, doubling his range and serving as "two actors for the price of one." His professional stage debut was at the Theatre Royal, Lincoln, in August of 1959, playing Morgan in a stage adaptation of Treasure Island.
Now an internationally respected actor known for successfully bridging the gap between the theatrical world of the Shakespearean stage and contemporary film and television, Patrick Stewart continues to demonstrate his versatility with a wide range of upcoming projects.