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Harold Pinter


Harold Pinter (born October 10, 1930) is an English playwright and theatre director. He has written for theatre, radio, television and film. His early work is often associated with the theatre of the absurd.

Pinter was born in Hackney in London, and briefly studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). He published poetry as a young man, and began working in the theatre as an actor. His first play, The Room, came in 1957. The same year he began work on The Birthday Party, probably his first play that is widely performed today. Initially, it was a flop, but following the success of The Caretaker in 1960, it was revived, and this time was well received. These plays, and other early ones such as The Homecoming (1964), have sometimes been labelled as displaying the "comedy of menace". They often take an apparently innocent situation, and turn it into a threatening and absurd one by means of characters acting in ways which seem inexplicable both to the audience and, sometimes, to other characters.

He began to direct more through the 1970s, becoming an associate director of the National Theatre in 1973. His later plays tend to be shorter, and on subjects which might be thought of as more political, often appearing to be allegories on oppression. It was around the 1970s that Pinter began to be more vocal on political matters, taking a distinctly left-wing stance. He continually strives to bring human rights violations and oppression to the public's attention. Letters from Pinter often appear in Britain's newspapers, such as The Guardian and The Independent.

In 1985 he travelled to Turkey with the American playwright Arthur Miller and met many victims of political oppression there. At an American embassy function honouring Miller, instead of exchanging pleasantries, Pinter spoke of people having an electric current applied to their genitals—which got him thrown out. (Miller, in support, left the embassy with him.) Pinter's experience of oppression in Turkey and the supression of the Kurdish language inspired his 1988 play Mountain Language.

Pinter's first screenplay, The Servant, was written in 1962. He later wrote scripts for The Go-Between and John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman, among others. He also published a screenplay based on Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, but this has never been filmed.

In 1977, Pinter caused a public scandal by leaving his wife, the actress Vivien Merchant for Lady Antonia Fraser, whom he eventually married in 1980.

Pinter is a great fan of cricket and is the chairman of the Gaieties Cricket Club.

He was appointed CBE in 1966 and became a Companion of Honour in 2002.


  • The Room (1957)
  • The Birthday Party (1957)
  • The Dumb Waiter (1957)
  • A Slight Ache (1958)
  • The Hothouse (1958)
  • The Caretaker (1959)
  • Sketches (1959)
    • The Black and White
    • Trouble in the Works
    • Last to Go
    • Request Stop
    • Special Offer
    • That's Your Trouble
    • That's All
    • Interview
    • Applicant
    • Dialogue Three
  • A Night Out (1959)
  • Night School (1960)
  • The Dwarfs (1960)
  • The Collection (1961)
  • The Lover (1962)
  • Tea Party (1964)
  • The Homecoming (1964)
  • The Basement (1966)
  • Landscape (1967)
  • Silence (1968)
  • Sketch: Night (1969)
  • Old Times (1970)
  • Monologue (1972)
  • No Man's Land (1974)
  • Betrayal (1978)
  • Family Voices (1980)
  • Victoria Station (1982)
  • A Kind of Alaska (1982)
  • Sketch: Precisely (1983)
  • One For the Road (1984)
  • Mountain Language (1988)
  • The New World Order (1991)
  • Party Time (1991)
  • Moonlight (1993)
  • Ashes to Ashes (1996)
  • Celebration (1999)
  • Sketch: Press Conference (2002)


  • Kullus (1949)
  • The Dwarfs (1952-56)
  • Latest Reports from the Stock Exchange (1953)
  • The Black and White (1954-55)
  • The Examination (1955)
  • Tea Party (1963)
  • The Coast (1975)
  • Problem (1976)
  • Lola (1977)
  • Short Story (1995)
  • Girls (1995)
  • Sorry About This (1999)
  • God's District (1997)
  • Tess (2000)
  • Voices in the Tunnel (2001)

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Last updated: 11-07-2004 20:39:51