Anthony Shaffer Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Anthony Joshua Shaffer (SHAF-ur) is best known for his play Sleuth, which reinvented the murder mystery by creating a new genre: the comedy thriller. He was born five minutes before his twin brother, dramatist Peter Shaffer. Their parents, Jack and Reka Shaffer, moved to London in 1936 where Jack’s real estate business was successful enough to fund the brothers’ enrollment in St. Paul’s School. During World War II, the twins were conscripted as “Bevin boys” to work in the coal mines of Kent and Yorkshire. After the war they entered Trinity College, Cambridge University, where they coedited the school newspaper, Granta. While Peter decided to become a writer, Anthony became a barrister, a profession that stimulated his interest in murder mystery. Peter, who had already written one mystery, The Woman in the Wardrobe (under the name Peter Antony in 1951), convinced Anthony to coauthor two murder mysteries, How Doth the Little Crocodile? and Withered Murder. The distinguishing trait of these novels is that from the discovery of the murder to the moment of revelation, the stories are told almost exclusively in dialogue. As Peter became established as a playwright, the brothers embarked on separate professional paths. Anthony was working in advertising and film production, but at his brother’s prodding he decided to try to earn his living as a writer. His first play, This Savage Parade, a thriller about the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann, closed after only one performance.{$S[A]Antony, Peter (joint);Shaffer, Anthony}

Shaffer had been studying classic English mysteries by such greats as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers; however, he viewed these as amusing puzzles and erudite games for intellectuals. The murders were never believable, but there was great pleasure in the extreme characterizations, clever clues, false leads, and the experience of solving “who done it.” His enjoyment of, but irreverent...

(The entire section is 809 words.)


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Anthony Joshua Shaffer was born the twin brother of fellow writer (later Sir) Peter Levin Shaffer on May 15, 1926, in Liverpool, England. They were the sons of Jewish estate agent Jack Shaffer and Reka Fredman Shaffer. The family moved to London in 1936, where the twins won scholarships to St. Paul’s school, which, following the German blitz of World War II, was moved to Berkhamsted. For three years late in the war and in the early postwar period (1944-1947), both brothers, in lieu of military service, worked as Bevin Boys (essential workers in service to the country, named for the program organizer, Ernest Bevin, minister of labor under Prime Minister Winston Churchill), as coal-mine conscripts in Kent and Yorkshire.

After finishing their national obligation, Anthony and his brother both attended Trinity College, Cambridge, where they coedited the student publication Grantha and cowrote detective stories for publication in various periodicals. Both graduated in 1950, Anthony majoring in law, Peter in history. Anthony Shaffer was married for the second of three times to former model Carolyn Soley, with whom he had two daughters. In 1951 he began practicing as a barrister, specializing in divorce work. That same year, he and his brother collaborated on the first of three mystery novels in the classical tradition, published under the joint pseudonym Peter Anthony: Woman in the Wardrobe (1951), How Doth the Little Crocodile?...

(The entire section is 541 words.)


(Drama for Students)

Anthony Shaffer was born in Liverpool, England, on May 15, 1926. The Shaffer family moved to London in 1942. From 1944 to 1947. Shaffer...

(The entire section is 330 words.)