Simon Gray Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Simon Gray is primarily known as a stage dramatist, but he began his playwriting career as an author of television scripts, including The Caramel Crisis (1966), Death of a Teddy Bear (1967), A Way with the Ladies (1967), Sleeping Dog (1967), Pig in a Poke (1969), The Dirt on Lucy Lane (1969), Style of the Countess (1970), The Princess (1970), and Man in a Sidecar (1971).

Besides being a successful dramatist, Gray also published novels: Colmain (1963), Simple People (1965), Little Portia (1967), A Comeback for Stark (1968; under the pseudonym Hamish Reade), and Breaking Hearts (1997). Gray also used the pen name James Holliday. Gray became editor of Delta magazine in 1964, and he coedited with Keith Walker an anthology entitled Selected English Prose that was published in 1967.

In 1975, the playwright wrote the screenplay version of his play for the film Butley, directed by Harold Pinter and starring Alan Bates, re-creating his stage role as the title character. The movie was made as part of the American Film Theatre series.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Simon Gray received many of the highest awards for dramatists. Death of a Teddy Bear won a Writers Guild Award, Butley received the Evening Standard (London) Award for Best Play of the Year in 1972, and Otherwise Engaged was voted Best Play by the New York Drama Critics Circle. Moreover, the filming of Butley and the option taken to film Death of a Teddy Bear are indicators of the dramatist’s popularity.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Blaydes, Sophia B. “Literary Allusion as Satire in Simon Gray’s Butley.” Midwest Quarterly 18 (Summer, 1977): 374-391. Discusses the academic setting of Butley and concentrates on explicating some of the more obscure literary allusions. Includes an end note on the making and distribution of the film version in 1975.

Burkman, Katherine H., ed. Simon Gray: A Casebook. New York: Garland, 1992. An introduction and a chronology are followed by fourteen essays, a bibliography, and an index. This volume is the first book-length exploration of Gray’s work, from Wise Child to Hidden Laughter. Contains single-work essays, overviews, and articles on adaptations. The Holy Terror, a revision of Melon, which was produced in Arizona in 1991, is mentioned in the chronology but is not dealt with in the essays.

Nightengale, Benedict. “Notes from the Front Lines of Life.” The New York Times, September 20, 1992. Summarizes Gray’s career.

Nothof, Anne. “The Pictures of Simon Gray: Dramatizing Degeneration.” Modern Drama 43, no. 1 (2000): 56-65. The essay portrays the artist as a disillusioned idealist whose degeneration (like that of the picture of Dorian Gray) is manifested in his plays, his protagonists, and his autobiographical notes.


(The entire section is 407 words.)