Dame Edith Margaret Emily Ashcroft, DBE (22 December 1907 – 14 June 1991), commonly known as Peggy Ashcroft, was an English actress whose career spanned more than sixty years.
Born to a comfortable middle-class family, Ashcroft was determined from an early age to become an actress, despite parental opposition. She was working in smaller theatres even before graduating from drama school, and within two years thereafter she was starring in the West End. Ashcroft maintained her leading place in British theatre for the next fifty years. Always attracted by the ideals of permanent theatrical ensembles she did much of her work for the Old Vic in the early 1930s, John Gielgud's companies in the 1930s and 1940s, the Royal Shakespeare Company from the 1950s and the National Theatre from the 1970s.
Well regarded in Shakespeare, Ashcroft was also known for her commitment to modern drama, appearing in plays by Bertolt Brecht, Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. Her career was almost wholly spent in the live theatre until the 1980s, when she turned to television and cinema with considerable success, winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and several British and European awards.