Robert Oxton Bolt (August 15, 1924 – February 12, 1995) was an English playwright and screenwriter.
He was born in Sale, Manchester, England. It was at Manchester Grammar School where his obsession for Sir Thomas More developed. He attended Manchester University. For many years he taught English and history only becoming a full time writer at the age of 33. Although he was best known for his original play A Man for All Seasons, which won awards on the stage and in its film version, most of his writing was screenplays for films or television. He was twice married to the actress Sarah Miles. He suffered a heart attack and a stroke which left him paralysed in 1979. He died aged 70, in Petersfield, Hampshire, England following a long illness.
Bolt was known for dramatic works that placed their protagonists in tension with the prevailing society. He won great renown for A Man for All Seasons, his first iteration of this theme, but he developed it in his existential script for Lawrence of Arabia. In Lawrence, he succeeded where several before him had failed, at turning T.E. Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" into a cogent screenplay by turning the entire book on its head and making it a search for the identity of its author. Lawrence, by Bolt, is presented as a misfit both in English and Arab society. It was at this time that Bolt himself fell afoul of the law and was arrested and imprisoned for protesting nuclear proliferation. He refused to be "bound over" (i.e, to sign a declaration that he would not engage in such activities again) and was sentenced to one month in prison because of this. The producer of the Lawrence film, Sam Spiegel, persuaded Bolt to sign after he had served only two weeks. Bolt later regretted his actions, and did not speak to Speigel again after the film was completed. Later, with Dr. Zhivago, he invested Pasternak's sprawling novel with some sense of narrative and the characteristic Bolt dialogue - human, short and telling. The Bounty was Bolt's first project after his stroke, which affected not only his movement, but his speech. In it, Fletcher Christian takes the "Lawrence" role of a man in tension with his society who in the process loses touch with his own identity. The Mission was Bolt's final film project, and once again represented his thematic preoccupations, this time with 18th century Jesuits in South America. Bolt remains one of the world's most astute writers of cinematic dialogue, one of its best interpreters of history and simply one of its great dramatists.
Among those he received screen-credit for writing were: