Harold Pinter, Nobel Prize-winner, Died at 78

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Dead, Harold Pinter on the 24th of December 2008 at the age of 78, he was a Nobel Prize-winning English playwright, screenwriter, director and actor.

Born on the 10th of October 1930, in Hackney, east London, the only child of English parents of Jewish Eastern European ancestry: his father, Hyman “Jack” Pinter (1902–1997) was a ladies’ tailor; his mother, Frances (née Moskowitz; 1904–1992), a housewife.

Pinter believed an aunt’s erroneous view that the family was Sephardic and had fled the Spanish Inquisition; thus, for his early poems, Pinter used the pseudonym Pinta and at other times used variations such as da Pinto. In 1940 and 1941, after the Blitz, Pinter was evacuated from their house in London to Cornwall and Reading.

Billington states that the “life-and-death intensity of daily experience” before and during the Blitz left Pinter with profound memories “of loneliness, bewilderment, separation and loss: themes that are in all his works.” He was a cricket enthusiast, taking his bat with him when evacuated during the Blitz.

In 1971 he told Mel Gussow: “one of my main obsessions in life is the game of cricket—I play and watch and read about it all the time.” He was chairman of the Gaieties Cricket Club, a supporter of Yorkshire Cricket Club, and devoted a section of his official website to the sport.

One wall of his study was dominated by a portrait of himself as a young man playing cricket, which was described by Sarah Lyall, writing in The New York Times: “The painted Mr. Pinter, poised to swing his bat, has a wicked glint in his eye; testosterone all but flies off the canvas.

” Pinter approved of the “urban and exacting idea of cricket as a bold theatre of aggression.” After his death, several of his school contemporaries recalled his achievements in sports, especially cricket and running.

From 1956 until 1980, Pinter was married to Vivien Merchant, an actress whom he met on tour, perhaps best known for her performance in the 1966 film Alfie. Their son, Daniel, was born in 1958.

Through the early 1970s, Merchant appeared in many of Pinter’s works, including The Homecoming on stage (1965) and screen (1973), but the marriage was turbulent.

For seven years, from 1962 to 1969, Pinter was engaged in a clandestine affair with BBC-TV presenter and journalist Joan Bakewell, which inspired his 1978 play Betrayal, and also throughout that period and beyond he had an affair with an American socialite, whom he nicknamed “Cleopatra”.

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2001, Pinter continued his writing and activism. He decried Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War, and he called both U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair “terrorists,” according to the Financial Times.

Pinter expressed some of his outrage in his poetry, particularly his 2003 collection, WAR.

In a poem entitled “God Bless America,” he wrote: “Here they go again/ The Yanks in their armoured parade/ Chanting their ballads of joy/ as they gallop across the big world/ Praising America’s God/ the gutters are clogged with the dead. In 2005, Pinter was honoured with the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The selection committee cited Pinter a writer “who, in his plays, uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms.” Some saw the choice of Pinter, an antiwar campaigner, as a political statement.

 

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