Published by Faber/Profile Books in 2005
Alan Bennett (born May 9, 1934) is an English author and actor famous for his work, boyish appearance and his sonorous Yorkshire accent.
Life and work
Born in Leeds, Bennett was schooled at Leeds Modern School (a state grammar school), learned Russian at the Joint Services School for Linguists during his National Service, and gained a place at Cambridge University. However, having spent time in Cambridge during national service, and partly wishing to follow the object of his unrequited love, he decided to apply for a scholarship at Oxford University. He went on to take a first-class degree in history from Exeter College, Oxford. He was to remain at Oxford for several years studying Medieval History before realising he was not cut out to be an academic.
He claims that as an adolescent he assumed he would grow up to be a Church of England clergyman, for no better reason than he looked like one.
Album of "Beyond the Fringe" Published by EMI in 1996
In August 1960, Bennett, along with Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller, and Peter Cook, achieved instant fame by appearing at the Edinburgh Festival in the satirical revue Beyond the Fringe. After the Festival, the show continued in London and New York. He also appeared in in My Father Knew Lloyd George. Bennett's first stage play, Forty Years On, was produced in 1968. He has written many short stories.
Many of Bennett's characters are unfortunate and downtrodden, as in the Talking Heads series of monologues for television which were later performed at the Comedy Theatre in London in 1992. This was a sextet of poignantly comic pieces, each of which portrayed several stages in the character's decline from their initial state of denial or ignorance of their predicament, through their slow realization of the hopelessness of their situation, to a typically bleak Bennett conclusion. A second set of six followed a decade later. He has written candidly and movingly of the mental illness that afflicted his mother and other family members.
Many of his plays draw on his background in Leeds and while he is celebrated for his acute observations of northern speech, the range and daring of his work is often undervalued – his television play The Old Crowd, for example includes shots of the director and technical crew, while his stage play The Lady in the Van includes two characters named Alan Bennett. The Lady in the Van was based on his experiences with a tramp called Miss Shepherd who lived on Bennett's driveway in a dilapidated caravan for many years.
In 1998, Bennett refused an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, in protest at its links with the press baron Rupert Murdoch.
In February 2005 his critically-acclaimed The History Boys  won three Olivier Awards, for Best New Play, Best Actor (Richard Griffiths), and Best Direction (Nicholas Hytner), having previously won Critics' Circle and Evening Standard Awards for Best Actor and Best Play. Bennett himself received an Olivier Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre . A film version of The History Boys is in production.
In September 2005, Bennett revealed that, in 1997, he had undergone treatment for cancer, and described the illness as a "bore". His chances of survival were given as being "much less" than 50%. . He began Untold Stories (published 2005) thinking it would be published posthumously. In the event his cancer went into remission. In the autobiographical sketches Bennett writes openly for the first time about his homosexuality.
Bennett has lived in London's Camden Town for thirty years, and shares his house with his partner of 14 years, Rupert Thomas.
- From Fringe to Flying Circus – 'Celebrating a Unique Generation of Comedy 1960–1980' – Roger Wilmut, Lyre Methuen Ltd, 1980.
- Footlights! – 'A Hundred Years of Cambridge Comedy' – Robert Hewison, Methuen London Ltd, 1983.
- My Father Knew Lloyd George (also writer), 1965
- Famous Gossips, 1965
- Plato—The Drinking Party, 1965
- Alice in Wonderland, 1966
- On the Margin series (also writer), 1966-67
- A Day Out (also writer), 1972
- Sunset Across the Bay (also writer), 1975
- A Little Outing (also writer), 1975
- A Visit from Miss Prothero (writer),1978
- Me—I'm Afraid of Virginia Woolf (writer), 1978
- Doris and Doreen (Green Forms) (writer), 1978
- The Old Crowd (writer), 1979
- Afternoon Off (writer), 1979
- One Fine Day (writer), 1979
- All Day On the Sands (writer), 1979
- Objects of Affection (Our Winnie, A Woman of No Importance, Rolling Home, Marks, Say Something Happened, Intensive Care) (also writer), 1982
- The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1982
- An Englishman Abroad (writer), 1983
- The Insurance Man (writer), 1986
- Breaking Up, 1986
- Man and Music (narrator), 1986
- Talking Heads (A Chip in the Sugar, Bed Among the Lentils, A Lady of Letters, Her Big Chance, Soldiering On, A Cream Cracker Under the Settee) (also writer), 1987
- Down Cemetery Road: The Landscape of Philip Larkin (presenter), 1987
- Fortunes of War series, 1987
- Dinner at Noon (narrator), 1988
- Poetry in Motion (presenter), 1990
- 102 Boulevard Haussmann (writer), 1990
- A Question of Attribution (writer), 1991
- Selling Hitler, 1991
- Poetry in Motion 2 (presenter), 1992
- Portrait or Bust (presenter), 1994
- The Abbey (presenter), 1995
- A Dance to the Music of Time, 1997
- Talking Heads 2, 1998
- Telling Tales, 2000
- Long Shot, 1980
- Dreamchild (voice only), 1985
- The Secret Policeman's Ball, 1986
- The Secret Policeman's Other Ball, 1982
- A Private Function (screenplay), 1986
- Pleasure at Her Majesty's, 1987
- Prick Up Your Ears (screenplay), 1987
- Little Dorrit, 1987
- Parson's Pleasure (writer), 1995
- The Madness of King George (writer), 1995
- The History Boys (writer), 2006
The gravestone of Alan Bennett's Uncle Clarence.
- The Great Jowett, 1980
- Dragon, 1982
- Uncle Clarence (writer, narrator), 1985
- Better Halves (narrator), 1988
- The Lady in the Van (writer, narrator), 1990
- Winnie-the-Pooh (narrator), 1990
BBC Radio Collection release of the play "Forty Years On"
, recorded in 2000.
- Better Late, 1959
- Beyond the Fringe (also co-writer), 1960
- The Blood of the Bambergs, 1962
- A Cuckoo in the Nest, 1964
- Forty Years On (also writer), 1968
- Sing a Rude Song (co-writer), 1969
- Getting On (writer), 1971
- Habeas Corpus (also writer), 1973
- The Old Country (writer), 1977
- Enjoy (writer), 1980
- Kafka's Dick (writer), 1986
- A Visit from Miss Prothero (writer), 1987
- Single Spies (An Englishman Abroad and A Question of Attribution) (also writer and director), 1988
- The Wind in the Willows (adaptation), 1990
- The Madness of George III (writer), 1991
- Talking Heads (Waiting for the telegram, A Chip in the Sugar, Bed Among the Lentils, A Lady of Letters, Her Big Chance, Soldiering On, A Cream Cracker Under the Settee) (also writer), 1992
- The History Boys (writer), 2004; Winner of Tony Award for Best Play, 2006.
- Beyond the Fringe (with Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller, and Dudley Moore). London: Souvenir Press, 1962, and New York: Random House, 1963
- Forty Years On. London: Faber, 1969
- Getting On. London: Faber, 1972
- Habeas Corpus. London: Faber, 1973
- The Old Country. London: Faber, 1978
- Enjoy. London: Faber, 1980
- Office Suite. London: Faber, 1981
- Objects of Affection. London: BBC Publications, 1982
- A Private Function. London: Faber, 1984
- Forty Years On; Getting On; Habeas Corpus. London: Faber, 1985
- The Writer in Disguise. London: Faber, 1985
- Prick Up Your Ears. London: Faber, 1987
- Two Kafka Plays. London: Faber, 1987
- Talking Heads. London: BBC Publications, 1988; New York: Summit, 1990
- Single Spies. London: Faber, 1989
- Winner of Olivier Award: England's best comedy for 1989
- Single Spies and Talking Heads. New York: Summit, 1990
- The Lady in the Van, 1990
- Poetry in Motion (with others). 1990
- The Wind in the Willows. London: Faber, 1991
- Forty Years On and Other Plays. London: Faber, 1991
- The Madness of George III. London: Faber, 1992
- Poetry in Motion 2 (with others). 1992
- Writing Home (memoir & essays). London: Faber, 1994
- The Madness of King George (screenplay), 1995
- The Laying on of Hands (novella), 2000
- The Clothes They Stood Up In (novel), 2001
- Untold Stories (autobiographical and essays), London, Faber/Profile Books, 2005, ISBN 0571228305
- Der Rote Baron, Sein letzter Flug, 2001
- Vater, Vater, lichterloh, 2002
- Cosi fan tutte, (previously published as Alle Jahre wieder) 2003
- Die Lady im Lieferwagen, 2004
- Handauflegen, 2005
- La pazzia di re Giorgio, 1996
- Nudi e crudi, 2001
- La cerimonia del massaggio, 2002
- La signora nel furgone, 2003
- Signore e signori, 2004
- Scritto sul corpo, 2006
- Peter Wolfe, Understanding Alan Bennett, University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 1-57003-280-7.