Dorothy Heathcote mbe was born in the West Yorkshire village of Steeton in 1926. She left the local school at the age of fourteen and was employed at the local woollen mill as a weaver. In 1945, after auditioning for a place at the Northern Theatre School, Bradford, Heathcote trained as an actress. Her fees were paid by the manager of the mill where she worked. In 1950, at the age of 24, she was appointed as a lecturer at the Newcastle upon Tyne campus of Durham University, the start of a career that was to last for 60 years and during which she was to travel around the world sharing her practice. In 1974 a BBC film about her practice, Three Looms Waiting, brought her to the attention of a wider public and she became an inspiration to generations of teachers. She retired from full-time lecturing at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1986, but continued to teach, write and contribute to courses and drama conferences throughout the world.