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Harold Pinter was Britain's foremost living dramatist until his death announced on Christmas Day 2008 after suffering from liver cancer. His plays are at once stylized and naturalistic. The terms Pinter pause and Pinteresque have entered the language.

Most theatre that we think of as naturalistic is in fact a highly artificial thing, but it is argued that if real dialogue were portrayed, it would be disjointed, slow, inconclusive and boring. Pinter characters talk in a disjointed, pause ridden, inconclusive manner, but are never boring. We always feel that there is a lot going on under the surface of the characters that we want to know about. What is more, the dialogue is more often than not very funny.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin awarded Harold Pinter the French Legion d'honneur during a visit to London in January 2007.  M Villepin reflected on Pinter's influence on himself, saying: "Your words express the anguish and the torrent that is human life."  "Dear Harold Pinter, your words are actions. Your words are a shout. They are rough, engaged in violent hand-to-hand combat that makes them talk, that makes them speak out," Villepin said.

In April 2007 Harold Pinter received an honorary degree from Leeds University for his contribution to English literature.  The BBC News website reported it here

In a 2005 interview by the BBC Pinter said that he would probably not write any more plays, but concentrate on his poetry.  He felt that 29 plays were enough.

In October 2005 Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  The Swedish Academy, nominated the playwright "who, in his plays, uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms".

In 2002 Her Majesty the Queen made Pinter a Companion of Honour for his services to literature.

Pinter's play Celebration was premiered in April 2000 in a double bill with his first play The Room, at London's Almeida Theatre.

Pinter wrote a screenplay in 1972 based upon Proust's A La Recherche du Temps Perdu. The film was never made but in 2000 The Royal National Theatre in London presented a play called Remembrance of Things Past which Pinter had adapted from his own screenplay.

Early Life

Harold Pinter was born in Hackney in the East End of London in 1930, the son of a tailor. At Hackney Grammar School he was inspired by a larger than life English teacher called Joe Brearley. Thanks to his encouragement, Pinter gained a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and trained as an actor. He did not get on with the organization, but in 1951 he joined a touring company led by Anew McMaster. A classical actor-manager of the old school, McMaster toured Ireland with Shakespeare productions.

Pinter led a double life for many years as an actor who scribbled poetry and prose pieces in his limited spare time. In 1956 he was introduced by a girlfriend to a curious man called Quentin Crisp (later the subject of the TV film The Naked Civil Servant). The following year his first play called The Room inspired by the meeting was produced by his friend Henry Woolf at Bristol University.

Eventually this led to his next play The Birthday Party being produced in London in 1958. It was a massive flop! It had been very well received on a pre-London tour, but all the first night critics panned it, and it closed in less than a week. The critic of the Sunday Times, Harold Hobson came later in the week when the theatre was almost empty and gave it a very good review recognizing the suppressed terror. It was too late for that production, but Pinter was not discouraged, and his next full length play The Caretaker produced in 1960 catapulted him to national fame.



Stage Works
  The Harold Pinter section of the Well Furlong Book Shop includes a chronological list of Pinter's stage works plus a highly recommended biography by Michael Billington


Harold Pinter Official Website
  Comprehensive information about the playwright, his life and work
Harold Pinter Obituary
  Overview of the playwright's life
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