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Alan Bennett

  • English dramatist
  • Born May 9, 1934

Alan Bennett (born 9 May 1934) is an English playwright, screenwriter, actor, and author. He was born in Leeds and attended Oxford University, where he studied history and performed with the Oxford Revue. He stayed to teach and research medieval history at the university for several years. His collaboration as writer and performer with Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller and Peter Cook in the satirical revue Beyond the Fringe at the 1960 Edinburgh Festival brought him instant fame. He gave up academia, and turned to writing full-time, his first stage play Forty Years On being produced in 1968.


Were we closer to the ground as children, or is the grass emptier now?




I'm less genial than people think, but I'm too timid to seem nasty.




Teachers need to feel they are trusted. They must be allowed some leeway to use their imagination; otherwise, teaching loses all sense of wonder and excitement.




Life is generally something that happens elsewhere.




The bits I most remember about my school days are those that took place outside the classroom, as we were taken on countless theatre visits and trips to places of interest.




I write plays about things that I can't resolve in my mind. I try to root things out.




Definition of a classic: a book everyone is assumed to have read and often thinks they have.




I don't believe in private education.




Feeling I'd scarcely arrived at a style, I now find I'm near the end of it. I'm not quite sure what Late Style means except that it's some sort of licence, a permit for ageing practitioners to kick their heels up.




Life is like a box of sardines and we are all looking for the key.




Closing a public library is child abuse, really, because it hinders child development.




Full-blooded romantic love I wouldn't be able to write about.




All knowledge is precious whether or not it serves the slightest human use.




Cancer, like any other illness, is a bore.




If you think squash is a competitive activity, try flower arranging.




Those who have known the famous are publicly debriefed of their memories, knowing as their own dusk falls that they will only be remembered for remembering someone else.




I'm all in favour of free expression provided it's kept rigidly under control.




I do not long for the world as it was when I was a child. I do not long for the person I was in that world. I do not want to be the person I am now in that world then. None of the forms nostalgia can take fits. I found childhood boring. I was glad it was over.




I have no nickname, as there has never been any need for one.




I've never seen the point of the sea, except where it meets the land. The shore has a point. The sea has none.




Children always assume the sexual lives of their parents come to a grinding halt at their conception.




We started off trying to set up a small anarchist community, but people wouldn't obey the rules.




I didn't even have a clear idea of why I wanted to go to Oxford - apart from the fact I had fallen in love with the architecture. It certainly wasn't out of some great sense of academic or intellectual achievement. In many ways, my education only began after I'd left university.




I always feel over-appreciated but underestimated.




Your whole life is on the other side of the glass. And there is nobody watching.




We were all miners in our family. My father was a miner. My mother is a miner. These are miner's hands, but we were all artists, I suppose, really. But I was the first one who had the urge to express myself on paper rather than at the coalface.




We were put to Dickens as children but it never quite took. That unremitting humanity soon had me cheesed off.




Sometimes, particularly in summers in New York, I have tried to write in shorts or with no shirt on and found myself unable to do so, the reason being, I take it, that writing, even of the most impersonal sort, is for me a divestment, a striptease, even, so that if I start off undressed, I have nowhere to go.




I always like to break out and address the audience. In 'The History Boys', for instance, without any ado, the boys will suddenly turn and talk to the audience and then go back into the action. I find it more adventurous doing it in prose than on the stage, but I like being able to make the reader suddenly sit up.




My films are about embarrassment.




I can't complain that I've had a public all through my writing life, but people don't quite know what I've written. People don't read you too closely. Perhaps, after I've died, they'll look at my stuff, and read it through, and find there's more in it. That may be wrong, but that's what I comfort myself with.




I've been very lucky in everything, really - in my career and in finding someone to share my life with, and in not dying.




I don't want to see libraries close; I want to find local solutions that will make them sustainable.




I'm more socialist certainly than New Labour - I'm very old Labour, really.




I'd somehow always thought of the classics of literature as something apart from me, something to do with academic life and not something you enjoyed.



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