"Books were my window on the world. Growing up at the Elephant and Castle, which was very rough, my paradise was the library." (Michael Caine)
The son of a fishmarket porter and charwoman, Maurice Michelwhite grew up in a poor family. In fact, they were so poor that young Maurice was born with rickets, a disease resulting from malnutrition. Being evacuated during the London Blitz proved a blessing in disguise for Maurice as he ate properly for the first time, growing to a whopping 6 foot 2. Maurice was one of 3.75 million Brits evacuated during the Second World War.
After the war, the Michelwhite's resettled in prefabricated housing at the Elephant and Castle, named after a coaching inn. What was supposed to be temporary housing turned into an 18-year stay for the family. Maurice thought they had moved up in the world thanks to the indoor toilet. Even so, the neighbourhood was sketchy. "Books were my window on the world. Growing up at the Elephant and Castle, which was very rough, my paradise was the library," he later explained (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/library_5.html).
At 19 years of age, Maurice served in the military in Korea. Upon returning, he took up acting. Following the advice of his agent, he decided to change his name from Maurice Michelwhite to Michael Caine, after spotting a marquee advertising the film The Caine Mutiny. Michael Caine starred in Zulu in 1964, but it was his role in The Ipcress File in 1965 which made him famous. He starred in several war films including The Battle of Britain (1969) and A Bridge Too Far (1977). The British actor earned Academy Awards for both Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and The Cider House Rules (1999). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Caine)
While Caine had fame and fortune, he never forgot his roots. "I kept my Cockney accent in order to let other working class boys know that if I made it, they can make it too." As one reporter pointed out: "If success is measured by how far you travel in a lifetime, physically and metaphorically, then his journey from Maurice to Michael, from the Elephant to Hollywood, makes him one of the most successful actors in history." (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/starsandstories/8037074/Michael-Caine-interview-for-his-autobiography-The-Elephant-to-Hollywood.html)
The hours that Michael spent at the local library paid off. He is now an author, penning his autobiography, The Elephant to Hollywood.
"I'm not sure my mom understood what I did, and she never understood what I earned," said Caine courtesy http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/event/article-2340240/Michael-Caine-Do-I-look-like-movie-star--The-actor-shares-stories-remarkable-1960s-pictures.html.