Still of Fonteyn from the 1972 film I Am a Dancer. Photo courtesy DM Archives

Celebrate Margot Fonteyn's 100th Birthday With 50 Rarely-Seen Photos From Our Archives

On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.


In the August 1948 issue of Dance Magazine, Arnold Haskell wrote of her, "Although Margot Fonteyn is an exceptionally hard and conscientious worker, she is fundamentally a lazy person. Her dream is to retire at thirty-five and to live in some warm climate, getting up late, going to bed late, swimming and enjoying the good things of the table. She has not the slightest desire of ever producing a ballet, and the very idea of teaching appalls her." Fonteyn continued to perform until she was 60 years old.

Below are our 50 favorite photos of the legendary ballerina from our archives.

Courtesy DM Archives

Fonteyn and members of The Royal Ballet out swimming, circa 1957

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