Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Gray, Simon James Holliday from Chambers Biographical Dictionary

1936-2008

English dramatist, director and novelist

Born in Hayling Island, Hampshire, he studied at Cambridge. He wrote novels and several television plays, but was best known as a stage dramatist. His first play, Wise Child, was produced in 1967. Subsequent plays included Butley (1971), Otherwise Engaged (1975), The Rear Column (1978), Quartermaine's Terms (1981), The Common Pursuit (1984, televised 1992), Melon (1987) and Cell Mates (1995), whose staging was the focus of much media attention following the walk-out and disappearance of Stephen Fry. He was a lecturer in English literature at Queen Mary College, London (1965-85), and many of his plays are set in the world of academics, publishers, or academics who publish. His best television play was After Pilkington (1987), a wry thriller set in Oxford. They Never Slept (1991), also for television, was a comedy about ghosts in World War II, with characteristically serious comment on war and the position of women. With An Unnatural Pursuit (1985) and How's That for Telling 'Em, Fat Lady? (1988), he began a series of professional and personal memoirs based on his diaries. This series culminated in the three part The Smoking Diaries (2004-8), and the posthumous Coda (2008). Seven of his plays were directed by Harold Pinter, including The Old Masters (2004). He was awarded the CBE in 2005.

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

Related Credo Articles

Full text Article Gray, Simon (James Holiday) (1936 - )
The Cambridge Guide to Theatre

Gray's comedies often depict lonely, alienated men, rejected by society because of either their sexual inclinations or...

Full text Article Gray, Simon [James Holliday]
Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature

Influenced by Joe ORTON and Harold PINTER , Gray emerged in the late 1960s as a writer of black comedy before earning...

Full text Article Gray, Simon (James Holiday) (1936 - )
The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English

Publishing and university life make the setting for several of his plays, which sustain a flow of comedy while exploring the...

See more from Credo