Trained at the Northern Theatre School in Bradford, Bristol-born Robert Stephens made his professional bow with the Caryl Jenner Mobile Theatre. Stephens first appeared on the London stage in a 1956 production of The Crucible. He graduated to stardom in the title role of the 1958 production Epitaph for George Dillon, a little-known but entertaining work that remains one of his favorites. In 1963, Stephens joined the newly formed National Theatre Company, appearing as Horatio in the organization's inaugural production of Hamlet; four years later, Stephens was appointed the National Theatre's associate director. In films from 1960, Stephens' better-known movie roles include the title character in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1969) and Teddy Lloyd in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), which starred the actor's then-wife Maggie Smith. Robert Stephens was honored with knighthood in 1994.