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Netflix: How old is Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit? New Anya Taylor-Joy series explained

Jane Corscadden October 27, 2020
how old is beth in the queen's gambit

How old is Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit? The new Netflix mini-series began streaming on the platform on Friday. Beth Harmon, the main character in the show, becomes a chess prodigy at a young age and viewers get to follow her as she grows up and comes to terms with her amazing talent.

(As always, folks – spoilers ahead!)

How old is Beth in The Queen’s Gambit?

The Queen’s Gambit follows the story of Beth Harmon, a young woman who becomes an orphan at just nine years old.

At the beginning of the show, Beth is eight and on the cusp of losing her parents. The Queen’s Gambit follows Beth’s journey through to the age of 22, as she navigates the world of competitive chess and comes to grips with being an orphan.

About Last Night | Season 1 Official Trailer | Studiocanal International

What is the series about?

The Queen’s Gambit is a seven-part limited series that has just premiered on Netflix.

It’s based on the 1983 eponymous novel by Walter Tevis, set during the 1960s.

Unfolding the ‘young genius’ trope, the show follows the story of Beth Harmon and her introduction to chess by the orphanage’s janitor, Mr Shabiel.

Mr Shabiel spots Beth’s natural ability for the game and teaches her all the ins and outs. Before she knows it, Beth is even dreaming of chess and soon becomes a chess prodigy.

Throughout The Queen’s Gambit, viewers watch Beth grow up and go from prodigy to grandmaster, with all the struggles such a journey entails.

Who plays Beth in The Queen’s Gambit?

Beth Harmon is played by Anya Taylor-Joy, a 24-year-old American-Argentinian-British actress originally from Miami, Florida.

If you’re wondering why she looks familiar, it may be because you’ve seen her as Gina Gray in Season 5 of Peaky Blinders. There, Taylor-Joy plays the scheming wife of Michael Gray, a high-ranking member of the Peaky Blinders.

The young actress was also in the movie adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma, multiple episodes of 2015 adventure-fantasy drama series Atlantis, and rose to international fame in her first leading role in horror movie The Witch.

Was Beth Harmon a real person?

To put it bluntly, no, The Queen’s Gambit isn’t based on a true story. Beth Harmon sadly wasn’t a real person.

However, the book the show is based on – The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis – is based on Tevis’s own experiences.

For example, he was a Class C chess competitor. In a 1983 interview with the New York Times, Tevis, who died a year after the book’s release, talked about his experiences.

He said: “I first began to play chess with my sister and the kids on my block. I once won a prize of $250 and became a Class C player.”

Beth’s drug addition in The Queen’s Gambit was also inspired by Tevis’s own experience.

In the same New York Times interview, Tevis mentions being diagnosed with a rheumatic heart as a child and being treated with large doses of medicine in hospital.

This is the real story that inspired Beth’s addiction to those tiny green pills in the show.

All in all, Tevis said The Queen’s Gambit was a “tribute to brainy women”. A solid premise for a story if ever there was one!

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Jane is a freelance journalist from Belfast, Northern Ireland specialising in news, culture and politics. She studied Politics at Queen’s University Belfast before completing a Journalism MA at the University of Ulster. Always trawling social media and keeping up to date with the latest trends and crazes, her main interest lies in digital culture and internet trends.