John Arden

John Arden was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, in 1930.  He was educated at King’s College, Cambridge (1950 – 1953) and Edinburgh College of Art (1953 – 1955).  After graduating, he worked as an Architectural Assistant in London but left that profession to become a fulltime writer from 1958.

Arden’s stage plays include:  Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance:  an Unhistorical Parable (1959); The Workhouse Donkey:  a Vulgar Melodrama (1963);  Armstrong’s Last Goodnight:  an Exercise in Diplomacy (1964).  Plays of Irish content, written in collaboration with Margaretta D’Arcy, e.g:  The Little Gray Home in the West (1972);  The Non-Stop Connolly Show (in six parts, 1975); Vandaleur’s Folly (1978).

Radio plays, e.g:  The Life Of Man (1956); Pearl (1978); Whose Is The Kingdom? (with Margaretta D’Arcy, in nine parts, 1988); Poor Tom, Thy Horn Is Dry (2004).

Arden’s novels include:  Silence Among the Weapons:  some events at the time of the failure of a republic (1982.  Short-listed for the Booker Prize); Books of Bale, a fiction of history (1988); Jack Juggler and the Emperor’s Whore:  seven tall tales for an indecorous toy theatre (1995).

Collections of short stories:  Cogs Tyrannic (1992); The Stealing Steps (2003); Gallows (2009).

John Arden won many awards, e.g:  Evening Standard Award, 1960; Trieste Festival Award, 1961; PEN Macmillan Silver Pen Award, 1992; V.S.Pritchett Award, 2003.

He also had a distinguished academic career, i.e:  Fellow in Playwriting at Bristol University, 1959 – 60; visiting lecturer in Politics & Drama at New York University, 1967; lecturer at the University of California, 1973; writer-in-residence at the University of New England , NSW, Australia, 1975.

He was co-founder of the Corrandulla Arts & Entertainment group, Co. Galway, and the Theatre Writers’ Group UK (subsequently the Theatre Writers’ Union). He lived in Co. Galway from 1962 until his death on 28 March 2012.


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