Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
Michael Frayn’s family lived in Mill Hill in northwest London but moved to Holloway soon after his birth and then to Ewell, a southwest suburb, where he was reared. His father was an asbestos salesperson who occasionally took Michael and his sister to the nearby Kingston Empire, a music hall, as a special treat. Frayn remembers borrowing music-hall routines for the home entertainments—puppet shows and conjuring acts—that he devised for an audience of three—father, mother, and sister. At Christmastime, the elder Frayn became the star performer in comic sketches that he himself wrote. Michael and his sister were relegated to supporting roles, and Mrs. Frayn formed an audience of one. Michael Frayn’s mother, who had earlier worked as a shop assistant and occasional model in Harrods, London’s grandest department store, died when he was twelve, a disorienting experience for the boy. At that time, his father removed him from private day school, which the boy hated, and enrolled him in the state-run Kingston Grammar School, where he was far more comfortable.
Frayn got along with his chums by playing the fool and cleverly mimicking his teachers while doing a minimum of schoolwork. That changed when an English master, aware of the boy’s incipient talent for writing, challenged him to produce even better work. These were the years in which Frayn discovered poetry, music, religion, and politics. He and his friends declared themselves atheists and...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Michael Frayn is one of the leading satirists among contemporary playwrights and novelists. He was the son of Thomas Allen and Violet Alice Lawson Frayn. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Ewell, Surrey. Frayn’s mother died when he was twelve, and his father, a sales representative for an asbestos manufacturer, was unable to pay both a housekeeper and private school fees and enrolled the boy in Kingston Grammar School. A poor student, Frayn made up for his insecurities by becoming the class clown.
After leaving school in 1952, Frayn completed two years of mandatory national service as a corpsman in the Royal Artillery and as a Russian interpreter in the Intelligence Corps. Following his discharge, he studied philosophy at Cambridge University, becoming strongly influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s views on the nature of language and reality. At Cambridge, Frayn also wrote a column for the university newspaper and collaborated on a student musical comedy.
After receiving his degree in 1957, Frayn was a reporter for The Manchester Guardian until 1959, when he began writing a column of social satire, collections of which were later published. He began working for The Observer in London in 1962, writing a humorous column until 1968. In 1960, he married Gillian Palmer; they had three daughters and were divorced in 1989. Frayn later married biographer Claire Tomalin.
While with The Observer, Frayn...
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Biography (Drama for Students)
Frayn was born September 8, 1933, in London. His mother died when he was twelve, whereupon his father transferred him from an exclusive private school to a public school for financial reasons. He was later educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he studied philosophy. By age twenty-four, he was working at the British newspaper, the Guardian, as a reporter and columnist, and then moved to the London Observer. He is a prolific writer, mostly known as a playwright and novelist, who has more than a dozen novels and twenty-plus plays to his name. He has also written numerous scripts for television and film, and has translated many of Anton Chekhov’s plays from Russian into English.
Since the 1960s, Frayn has won many awards for his work, including, to name just a few: the Somerset Maugham Award for The Tin Men (1965); the London Evening Standard Best Comedy of the Year Award, and the Society of West End Theatre Award for best comedy of the year for Noises Off (1982); the Antoinette Perry Award for best play and the Tony Award for best play for Copenhagen (2000); the Society of West End Theatre Award for best play of the year, Laurence Olivier Award for best play, Plays and Players Award for best new play, and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for best new foreign play, all for Benefactors; and the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Whitbread Award for best novel for Spies (2002). His...
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