Alan Ayckbourn Biography


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

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...

(The entire section is 573 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

One of the most inventive dramatists of his day, Alan Ayckbourn (AYK-bawrn) has been compared to Neil Simon for his hilarious and prolific output of popular plays.{$S[A]Allen, Roland;Ayckbourn, Alan}

Ayckbourn’s father, Horace, was a violinist for the London Symphony Orchestra; his mother, Irene, was a writer of romance fiction known by her pen name, Mary James. His parents divorced by the time he was four years old; when Ayckbourn was seven, his mother married a Sussex bank manager. There were no siblings, though he had a stepbrother who was several years younger. In an interview, he later said that his early life was not completely happy, elaborating that “the air was often blue, and things were sometimes flying across the kitchen.” Ayckbourn escaped some of his tempestuous home life when he began to attend boarding school at the age of seven, though he returned home on weekends. By the age of eleven, when he won a scholarship to a prestigious preparatory school, he was already writing plays for himself as an actor. While in school, he briefly toured Europe, Canada, and parts of the United States with a youth theater group.

In 1956, at the age of seventeen, Ayckbourn, having decided to become an actor, began to work in repertory theater. Of this time he once said that “I never, in all my years of acting, was ever unemployed.” During this period, he married Christine Roland, with whom he had two children.

Ayckbourn eventually found an artistic home with the Stephen Joseph Company in Scarborough. Joseph, the son of the well-known British actress Hermionie Gingold, had great respect for playwrights, and he encouraged Ayckbourn to write. One of Ayckbourn’s early experiences at that theater was playing a role for, and working closely with, Harold Pinter on The Birthday Party (1958). His brief relationship with Pinter influenced many of his views on the creation of character and dialogue. The fact that the Stephen Joseph Company...

(The entire section is 811 words.)


(Drama for Students)

Alan Ayckbourn Published by Gale Cengage

Alan Ayckbourn was born April 12, 1939, in the London suburb of Hampstead. His parents divorced in 1943, and his mother, a writer of romantic...

(The entire section is 498 words.)