Born into a working-class family, Edward Bond, one of four children, was evacuated to Cornwall at the beginning of World War II, after which he returned to his grandparents’ home near Ely. These country experiences were important to Bond and may be the source of his exceptional ability to capture a wide variety of speech mannerisms. After the war, he returned to London for grammar school and attended Crouch End Secondary Modern School; like many of his classmates, he left school at fifteen. He later attributed his interest in playwriting to two childhood experiences: first, his early exposure to the music hall, where one of his sisters was a magician’s assistant, and second, his seeing, at age fourteen, the actor Daniel Wolfit in Macbeth (pr. 1606). Bond says of this experience, “It was the first thing that made sense of my life for me.”
After leaving school, Bond worked in a factory until he was eighteen and then fulfilled his national service obligation (1953-1955). After basic training, he found himself stationed in Vienna, where he began seriously to try to write fiction. He returned to London in 1955 and again worked in factories. After submitting some plays to the Royal Court, he was asked in 1958 to join the writers’ group there and to become a regular play reader for the theater. His first produced play, The Pope’s Wedding, was directed by George Devine, who became Bond’s favorite director and a champion of his work. Since 1966, Bond has lived by his writing, although his income has come more from the cinema than the theater. In 1971, Bond married Elisabeth Pablé. He has developed a coterie following in England, Italy, and the United States and has been a popular playwright in Germany. In Italy, where Bond served as visiting professor at the University of Palermo, his continuance of the Brechtian tradition has been recognized.
Bond has become involved in Theatre in Education (TIE), a project based in Birmingham, England, called the Big Brum TIE Company. He has written a number of plays for them and has participated in tours and workshops. In 1995 he said he felt he was writing better than ever. However, despite incursions into the Royal Shakespeare Company, he has withdrawn from mainstream British theater, preferring the lesser glory of educational theater based at a provincial center.