Alan Ayckbourn was born in Hampstead, London, on April 12, 1939, to Horace and Irene Worley Ayckbourn, his father the first violinist with the London Symphony Orchestra and his mother a novelist and short-story writer for popular women’s magazines. In 1943, when he was five, his parents were divorced and his mother married Cecil Pye, a manager for Barclays Bank. Winning a Barclays Bank scholarship, Ayckbourn attended Haileybury School in Hertfordshire, where, during the next five years, he became interested in drama, touring in Holland as Peter in Romeo and Juliet and in the United States and Canada as Macduff in Macbeth.
Thus began Ayckbourn’s lifelong affair with the theater. He left school with “A” levels in English and history and, at seventeen, joined Sir Donald Wolfit’s company at the Edinburgh Festival as acting assistant stage manager. He also worked in summer theater at Leatherhead and then at Scarborough’s Studio Theatre (under Stephen Joseph, son of actress Hermione Ferdinanda Gingold), writing plays even as he was initiated into the production rites of professional theater.
In 1959, Ayckbourn married actress Christine Roland, had a son (Steven Paul), and saw two of his plays (The Square Cat and Love After All) produced in Scarborough under the pseudonym of Roland Allen. In 1962, his second son, Nicholas Phillip, was born, and in 1964, Ayckbourn’s Mr. Whatnot opened at the...
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