Miriam Margolyes tells Queen’s festival Charles Dickens would have been ‘pro-Palestine’

Miriam Margolyes has said she believes Charles Dickens would have been “pro-Palestine” at an event held by the Queen.

The Harry Potter actor, 83, has been vocal about her thoughts on the ongoing Gaza crisis and reiterated her position at the Queen’s Reading Room Festival at Hampton Court Palace on Saturday, adding that the Oliver Twist author would have agreed.

The event’s audience included Camilla, BBC Sport presenter Clare Balding and her wife Alice Arnold alongside members of the public.

Broadcaster Gyles Brandreth asked the star when she first discovered the Great Expectations and David Copperfield writer.

She told the What The Dickens! Miriam Margolyes and Friends session: “When I was 11, I read Oliver Twist, that was the first one. And I just loved it,” she began.

Reflecting on her Jewish identity and the antisemitism prevalent at the time of the book’s writing, Margolyes added, “It was all about criminals. And I enjoyed the danger of it, the humour of it. But I was mystified because of the (reference to the) Jews and I’m Jewish.

“And I thought, ‘Why is he talking about the slimy Jew (Fagin) sliding along the page?’ and I was concerned about this. I didn’t realise that antisemitism was part of life.”

She then commented on the ongoing situation in Gaza, saying she believed Dickens would agree with her.

 (Chris Jackson/PA Wire)
(Chris Jackson/PA Wire)

“And don’t worry, I am very political and I am very pro-Palestine,” she said. “I just want that to be very clear, and so would Dickens if he was (here)… but it fascinated me and so I was drawn into that world and I never left. ”

Margolyes did theatrical Dickens-associated readings alongside other actors including Karl Collins, Miranda actor Patricia Hodge, Tipping The Velvet star Rachael Stirling and Game Of Thrones actor Julian Glover.

The British-Australian star also discussed the war in an appearance on Australian programme The Project in March earlier this year.

“Because being Jewish, we always have to say what we are. Are we for Israel or against Israel? I’m only for humanity. Ceasefire. Ceasefire,” she said, to applause from the studio audience.

It comes at a tense time for the entertainment industry following a heated Eurovision Song Contest, and tension at the Oscars following Jonathan Glazer’s acceptance speech earlier this year.