St George Churchyard Clun, Shropshire Unitary Authority, Shropshire, England
John James Osborne (Fulham, London, 12 December 1929 – 24 December 1994) was an English playwright, screenwriter and actor, known for his excoriating prose and intense critical stance towards established social and political norms. The success of his 1956 play Look Back in Anger transformed English theatre.
In a productive life of more than 40 years, Osborne explored many themes and genres, writing for stage, film and TV. His personal life was extravagant and iconoclastic. He was notorious for the ornate violence of his language, not only on behalf of the political causes he supported but also against his own family, including his wives and children.
John Osborne was the primogenitor and main proponent of the movement of "angry young men" in the British theatre of the 1950s. His plays—including Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer, Inadmissible Evidence, Epitaph for George Dillon, and Time Present—are peppered with vitriolic bursts of invective and degradation. The targets of Osborne’s attacks were often homosexuals and hypocrites. It seems that Osborne was both, and his anger may have been directed primarily at himself.
Following Osborne’s death in December 1994, actor-playwright Anthony Creighton (1922-2005) revealed that he and Osborne had had a long-running affair, documented by voluminous correspondence between them. Creighton was the model for Cliff in Look Back in Anger, which Osborne had written when he and Creighton were living on a houseboat on the Thames in 1954.
Osborne’s 1965 play A Patriot for Me is based on the homosexual scandal of Colonel Alfred Redl. Britain’s censors refused to allow the play, with its depiction of a drag ball, to be staged. Critic Mary McCarthy wrote of the play that its "chief merit is to provide work for a number of homosexual actors, or normal actors who can pass as homosexual."
After a serious liver crisis in 1987, Osborne became a diabetic, injecting twice a day. He died in 1994 from complications from his diabetes at the age of 65 at his home in Clunton, near Craven Arms, Shropshire. He is buried in St George's churchyard, Clun, Shropshire, alongside his last wife, the critic Helen Dawson, who died in 2004.
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