Harold Pinter Questions and Answers

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What is the background of Harold Pinter?

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Harold Pinter was born in London, England in October of 1930. Because of the bombing in London during World War II, Pinter was evacuated to the countryside when he was about nine years of age. He was not allowed to return to London until about three years later, and this experience—along with many personal encounters involving anti-Semitism—greatly informed his work.

Pinter first tried his hand in theater, and was a member of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts for a time in 1948. He was then offered a spot at the Central School of Speech and Drama in 1951, and then again that same year at Anew McMaster’s famous Irish repertory company, where he toured for three years using the stage name of David Baron.

Pinter began writing poetry while in college, but didn't start writing plays until 1957. His acclaim grew after writing The Caretaker in the late 1950s. He wrote plays prolifically from the 1960s-1990s. Pinter has also written for television and film. In 2005, Pinter won a Nobel Prize for Literature. Pinter was married to the actor Vivien Merchant from 1956 to 1980; after a scandalous affair, he married the author and historian Lady Antonia Fraser in 1980. Pinter died on Christmas Eve 2008, at the age of 78.

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The late British playwright Harold Pinter (1930-2008) was one of the most versatile literary figures of the past century, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005. In addition to several of his award-winning plays, Pinter was an actor, director, screenwriter, poet and political activist. Pinter was born in Hackney (east London) to Jewish parents of Polish descent. He was married first to the British actress Vivien Merchant and, later, to theatre historian Lady Antonia Fraser. Pinter acted in many of his own plays--on stage, film, TV and radio--and directed nearly 50 productions. He wrote more than 30 plays, among them The Birthday Party, The Caretaker and The Homecoming. Pinter won the Tony Award for Best Play (The Homecoming) in 1967, and he received Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay (The French Lieutenant's Woman and Betrayal) in 1983 and 1985. After recovering from bouts with oesophageal cancer, he died of liver cancer in 2008. His works were so unique in style and content that they became known as "Pinteresque."

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