Tom Stoppard Biography

Biography (Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Tomas Straussler was born on July 3, 1937, in the town of Zlin, Czechoslovakia, since renamed Gottwaldov. He was the youngest of two sons of a physician, Eugene Straussler, and his wife, Martha. Stoppard’s parents were Jewish, although Stoppard did not know this until much later in life. Their religious background caused the family to move to Singapore in early 1939, on the eve of the German invasion of their homeland. In 1942, all but the father moved again, to India, just before the Japanese invasion, in which Dr. Straussler was killed. In 1946, Martha Straussler married Kenneth Stoppard, a major in the British army who was stationed in India. Both children took their stepfather’s name when the family moved to England later that year. Demobilized, Kenneth Stoppard prospered as a machine-tool salesperson.

Despite this globe-trotting background—in one interview he called himself “a bounced Czech”—Stoppard has spoken and written in English since the age of five. His first school in Darjeeling, India, was an English-language, American-run institution. He attended preparatory schools in Nottingham and Yorkshire, leaving at the age of seventeen after having completed his “A” levels. In 1954, he began working as a local journalist in Bristol, rejoicing in the life of a newspaper reporter for the next six years. He did not consider becoming a playwright until the late 1950’s, when a new breed of English dramatists, led by John Osborne and Arnold Wesker, asserted themselves on the London stage. Simultaneously, a new breed of actors emerged, prominent among them Peter O’Toole, whose blazing performances for the Bristol Old Vic repertory company...

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Tom Stoppard Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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Tom Stoppard (STOP-ahrd) was born Tomas Straussler, the second son of Eugene and Martha Straussler, in Zlín, Czechoslovakia (now in Czech Republic), on July 3, 1937. His father was a Jewish physician who worked for the Bata Shoe Company. In 1939, to protect the family from internment when the Nazi invasion was imminent, the company transferred the Straussler family to Singapore. There the Straussler children attended a multinational American school until the Japanese invasion of 1942 sent them fleeing to Darjeeling, India. Stoppard’s father, however, remained behind and was killed; his mother later married a British major, Kenneth Stoppard, whose name the Straussler children took. In 1946, the Stoppard family moved to England and settled in the Bristol area in 1950. Stoppard was educated at Dophin School, Nottinghamshire, and Pocklington School, Yorkshire, but did not continue on to a university. His knowledge of the theater and the dramatic arts is mainly self-taught.

Stoppard worked as a journalist for the Western Daily Press in Bristol for the next four years and then for the Bristol Evening World for two more years. He wrote feature articles, humor columns, and second-string drama criticism. This involvement with theater criticism led to a new career and is reflected in his rapier attacks on drama critics in The Real Inspector Hound (pr., pb. 1968). He next became a freelance journalist and writer. As drama critic for...

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Tom Stoppard Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Tom Stoppard’s major plays in many ways represent the times in which they were written. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is clearly in the style of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, a play out of the 1950’s and the existential-absurdist tradition. Jumpers has the manic energy and outrageous non sequiturs of swinging London in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Travesties, although written shortly after Jumpers, returns to a slightly more conventional format, while The Real Thing is on the surface a play from a much earlier time. The Coast of Utopia, in turn, reflects a twenty-first century attempt to reexamine the debates of the past in order to shed light on utopian yearnings. Yet first to last, these disparate works remain uniquely those of Stoppard, with his typical concerns for distinguishing illusion from reality, for finding one’s way in a confusing and unforgiving world. Stoppard’s work has the conservatism of comedy, keeping one foot firmly planted in the earthiness of the comic, as if in distrust of too many abstractions, too many high-flying ideas. Finally, each play is a linguistic tour de force, inventive, sometimes lyrical, and always hypnotizing.

Tom Stoppard Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Catapulted to fame in 1967 with the National Theatre’s production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (it was first produced in Edinburgh), Tom Stoppard (STOP-ahrd) emerged as a leading dramatist in the second of the two waves of new drama that arrived on the London stage in the mid-1950’s and the mid-1960’s. Writing high comedies of ideas with what critic Kenneth Tynan described as a hypnotized brilliance, Stoppard established a reputation almost immediately with dazzling displays of linguistic fireworks that evoked comparisons with Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and James Joyce. His reinventions of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (pr. c. 1600-1601) in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (pr. 1895) in Travesties, and August Strindberg’s Fröken Julie (pb. 1888; Miss Julie, 1912) in The Real Thing are considered masterpieces. His linguistic caprices and his creative plagiarisms join forces with a love of ideas with which his characters play as much as they do with language.{$S[A]Straussler, Tomas;Stoppard, Tom}

Born Tomas Straussler to Eugene and Martha Straussler of Zlín (later Gottwaldov), Czechoslovakia, Stoppard was two years old when his father, the company doctor for an international shoe company, was transferred to Singapore on the eve of Germany’s annexation of Czechoslovakia. Shortly before the Japanese invasion of Singapore—during which his father was killed—he, his mother, and his brother were moved to Darjeeling, India. There Martha Straussler managed a company shoe shop; she later married Major Kenneth Stoppard, who moved the family to England in 1946. Bored by school, the young Stoppard chose not to go to a university and, instead, became a news reporter in Bristol and later a drama critic for the short-lived magazine Scene. His early writing included a novel, some short stories, and a series of short radio plays.

His major early plays (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Jumpers, Travesties, Night and Day, The Real Thing, and Hapgood), although scintillating in their language, ideas, and plots, have frequently been criticized for the absence of emotionally credible characters and for their lack of social or political commitment. In other plays for stage and television—Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, which is about political prisoners in central Europe, Professional Foul, about freedoms in Czechoslovakia, and Squaring the Circle, about Poland’s Solidarity movement—Stoppard entered the political arena. Although active in the anticommunist human rights...

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Tom Stoppard Biography (eNotes Publishing)

Tom Stoppard, born in 1937, is one of the most critically acclaimed, award-winning playwrights of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. His rich multicultural background has led him to write about a very diverse number of topics. He was born in Czechoslovakia, lived in Singapore and India for a short time, and was educated in England. His birth name was Straussler, but he took the name Stoppard when his mother remarried after his father’s death. Stoppard quit school at the age of 17 and began working as a journalist. His first big success as a playwright came in 1966 with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. For the next decade, he wrote several other popular plays and translated dozens more. In 1977, after a visit to Russia with an Amnesty International member, his work took a decided turn toward the political. He began infusing most of his plays with themes about human rights. Another of his hallmarks is how he manipulates the perception of time and reality in his plays, which often deviate from a typical realistic, linear form. In addition to plays, Stoppard has written many articles and screenplays, including 1998’s Shakespeare in Love for which he won the Best Screenplay Oscar in 1999. The Coast of Utopia trilogy earned Stoppard seven Tony Awards in 2007, the most ever won for a nonmusical. Stoppard has been quoted as saying that he wrote the majority of the trilogy while listening repeatedly to Pink Floyd’s song “Comfortably Numb.”

Tom Stoppard Biography (eNotes Publishing)

Award-winning and critically acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard is widely considered to be among the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Stoppard was born in Czechoslovakia in 1937. His original name was Straussler, but he took the name Stoppard after his father died and his mother remarried. Growing up, Stoppard lived in Singapore, India, and England. His multicultural background is evident in his diverse work.

In 1952, Stoppard left school at the age of 17 and became a journalist. In 1966, Stoppard had his first big success with his play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. During the 1970s, he wrote several more popular plays and translated...

(The entire section is 218 words.)

Tom Stoppard Biography (eNotes Publishing)

Critically acclaimed and award-winning playwright Tom Stoppard is often called one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Stoppard, born in Czechoslovakia in 1937, was originally named Straussler, but he took the name Stoppard after his father died and his mother remarried. As a child, Stoppard lived in Singapore, India, and England. His multicultural background is evident in his diverse work.

Stoppard left school in 1952 at the age of 17 and became a journalist. His first big success came in 1966 with his play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Throughout the 1970s, he wrote several popular plays and translated many more. Following his...

(The entire section is 211 words.)

Tom Stoppard Biography (Drama for Students)

Tom Stoppard is regularly cited as one of England's greatest playwrights, alongside such national treasures as George Bernard Shaw, Oscar...

(The entire section is 571 words.)

Tom Stoppard Biography (Drama for Students)

Tom Stoppard (pronounced Stop-pard, with equal accents on both syllables) was born Tomas Straussler in Czechoslovakia on July 3, 1937. His...

(The entire section is 429 words.)

Tom Stoppard Biography (Drama for Students)

Tom Stoppard was born Tomas Straussler in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) on July 3, 1937. His family moved to Singapore in 1939;...

(The entire section is 569 words.)

Tom Stoppard Biography (Drama for Students)

Tom Stoppard was bom Tomas Straussler on July 3, 1937, in Zlin, in the former Czechoslovakia, to Eugene Straussler (a physician) and Martha...

(The entire section is 303 words.)

Tom Stoppard Biography (Drama for Students)

Stoppard was born as Tomas Straussler on July 3, 1937, in Zlin, Czechoslovakia. In 1939, just prior to the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia...

(The entire section is 342 words.)

Tom Stoppard Biography

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Tom Stoppard is one smart chap. All of his critically acclaimed, award-winning plays reveal a ferocious intelligence that forms the bedrock of his work. Despite having no formal education, Stoppard has written plays that have been lauded for their whip-smart dialogue and deep thought. His instant classic Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead upends the world of Hamlet by offering an absurd take on two relatively minor characters from the play. Shakespeare was also the subject for his charming historical fiction screenplay Shakespeare in Love. Stoppard’s work frequently explores complex notions of time and reality. The era-hopping Arcadia is an example of the former, while his play-within-a-play The Real Inspector Hound typifies the latter.

Essential Facts

  1. Stoppard was born Tomas Straussler. He gained the surname of Stoppard as a boy when his mother remarried.
  2. Stoppard had a multicultural childhood. A Czechoslovakian Jew, he relocated with his family to Singapore for a time, and he was later educated in England.
  3. As a young man working at the Bristol Old Vic, Stoppard crossed paths with two men who would also go on to achieve great success: director John Boorman and acting legend Peter O’Toole.
  4. For nearly twenty-five years, the Tom Stoppard Prize has been awarded to promising Czechoslovakian playwrights.
  5. Stoppard not only writes plays but translates them as well. He has penned translations of works by Vaclav Havel and Luigi Pirandello.

Tom Stoppard Biography (Drama for Students)

Tom Stoppard was born Tomas Straussler, on July 3, 1937, in Zlin, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). He was the second son of Eugene...

(The entire section is 313 words.)