John Osborne, the original Angry Young Man, shocked and transformed British theater in the 1950s with his play Look Back in Anger . This startling biography–the first to draw on the secret notebooks in which he recorded his anguish and depression–reveals the notorious rebel in all his heartrending complexity.
Through a working-class childhood and five marriages, Osborne led a tumultuous life. An impossible father, he threw his teenage daughter out of the house and never spoke to her again. His last written words were "I have sinned." Theater critic John Heilpern’s detailed portrait, including interviews with Osborne's daughter, scores of friends and enemies, and his alleged male lover, shows us a contradictory genius–an ogre with charm, a radical who hated change, and above all, a defiant individualist.
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|Title of eBook: John Osborne|
|Release Date: 03-04-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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I may be a poor playwright, but I have the best view in England—
John Osborne at home in Shropshire
As I remember it now, when I first visited Osborne’s house in Clun, deep in the Shropshire hills, I was struck by its remoteness from what he called the kulcher of London. Though a dramatist may write as well in the tweedy shires as in literary Hampstead, it was as if he had fled all contact with the theatre that had been his life. He moved to Shropshire for good with his wife, Helen, in 1986 and the Clun valley with its surly sheep, close to the Welsh border in Housman country, is about as far from the metropolis as you can get without actually leaving England.
Clunton and Clunbury; Clungunford and Clun
Are the quietest places under the sun
—A. E. Housman, not at his best.
The famously urban dramatist was a countryman at heart who loved the place as his own chunk of ancient England, unless, that is, he was the play-acting poseur some took him for. He began as an actor, after all. What role, then, was he playing? Former Angry Young Man now morphed into curmudgeonly country squire? The noncomformist clamped as brawling Tory blimp? The ex-playwright? He had taken to signing his name “John Osborne, ex-playwright” even as he continued struggling with new plays in the wreckage of a life ruled by disorder and passion. Had he become that sentimental relic or absurdist thing, an English Gentleman? But Osborne, everyone knew, wasn’t a gentleman.
He was almost a gentleman. Scholarly literary critics attributed the title of his second volume of autobiography in 1991, Almost a Gentleman