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His Life

FORMATIVE YEARS

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman was born on February 21, 1946 in Acton, UK to Irish/Welsh parents. He was their second child, with an older brother and a sister and brother younger than him. He was raised in middle-class origins, and according to friends, always felt uncomfortable with this background as he so obviously strove to move beyond the class boundaries imposed by British society. His father died when he was just eight, and his mother was a strong character who imbued the young Rickman with a sense of self-worth and respect for women and fairness.

From an early age, creativity and intelligence shone in the young Alan Rickman. As a child, he scribbled and doodled and had elegant calligraphy and talent in creating watercolor paintings. In 1957, Rickman won a scholarship to Latymer Upper, Hammersmith - the school also responsible for turning out the actors Hugh Grant, and Mel Smith. It was here that Rickman began to delve into acting with seriousness, becoming a regular performer in school plays as member of the 'Gild Drama Club,' a radical Latymer concept where pupils and masters could compete as equals. The perfectionist in Rickman, his acting credibility and voice all bought him critical acclaim - and gave him paranoia about critics.

A young Alan RickmanAfter graduating from Latymer, Rickman was faced with the dilemma of pursuing acting or design. Circumstances saw him enrolled in a three-year art and design course at Chelsea College of Art. It was here that he met his lifetime partner, Rima Horton, and together, they joined an amateur west London acting group called the Brook Green Players. Here again, he was recognized in the newspapers for his acting talent. However, at the time, his conservative background cautioned him to continue with the art career.

Upon graduating in 1968, Rickman worked in various graphic design roles, and eventually formed the company, Graphiti with a group of friends. However, the acting instinct wouldn't go away. He kept up acting, joining the Court Drama Group with Rima Horton, playing many eclectic roles. And then, at 25, he found himself posting a letter to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, asking for an audition. As foolish as he may have thought this was, it was an act that changed his life.

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