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Summary Article: Bennett, Alan
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


♦ English dramatist, actor and director

Born in Leeds, he was educated at Leeds Modern School and Oxford, where he studied Modern History. He came to prominence as a writer and performer in Beyond the Fringe, a revue performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1960, and wrote a television series, On The Margin (1966), before his first stage play, Forty Years On (1968). He is essentially a humanist, noted for his wry, self-deprecating humour, which combines a comic-tragic view of life, and later plays include Getting On (1971, about a Labour MP), Habeas Corpus (1973), The Old Country (1977), the double bill Single Spies (1988) and The Madness of George III (1991). The latter was rewritten as a screenplay entitled The Madness of King George (1995), which became an award-winning film starring Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren. He has also written much for television, including An Englishman Abroad (1983), The Insurance Man (1986), and a series of six monologues, Talking Heads (1988). He has published two volumes of autobiography: Writing Home (1994) and Untold Stories (2005). His play The History Boys (2004) enjoyed success in the UK and on Broadway, where it won a Tony award (2006); a film adaptation also appeared in 2006. The Habit of Art, about the relationship between W H Auden and Benjamin Britten, was first performed in 2009.

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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