Kenneth Tynan: A Life

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Overview

"Kenneth Tynan (1927-1980) lived one of the most intriguing theatre lives of the twentieth century. A brilliant writer, critic and agent provocateur he made friends or enemies of nearly every major actor, playwright, impresario and movie mogul of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Working on each side of the Atlantic during various periods in his career, Tynan wrote for the Evening Standard, the Observer, and the New Yorker; was lured by Laurence Olivier in the early 1960s to become dramaturg of Britain's newly formed National Theatre; and spent his final years in Los Angeles. This biography offers the first complete appraisal of Tynan's powerful contribution to post-war British theatre, set against the context of the fifties, sixties and seventies of his own turbulent life." Shellard proves beneath the celebrity myths to uncover Tynan the private man and theatre genius. He draws on Tynan's own extensive personal papers and diaries, taped interviews with theatre professionals who knew him and fascinating letters to such correspondents as Tennessee Williams, Marlene Dietrich, George Devine, Peter Brook, Alec Guiness and Terence Rattigan. Shellard highlights Tynan's early writings, when the brilliant young critic came to national prominence, and discusses how Tynan gained a left-wing readership, took his place at the vanguard of the new realist movement, and helped to establish subsidized theatre. He shows how, through indefatigable battles against theatre censorship and railings against the myopia of a politically and culturally insular Britain, Tynan helped create some of the most controversial theatrical events of the 1960s and 70s, including Oh Calcutta! Exploring the public and private sides of Tynan, Shellard reveals an outspoken, explicit and sometimes savage critic who ranks among the most influential theatre figures of the twentieth century.
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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
[Tynan's] character resists biographical rehabilitation: He was a creep. But he was a creep-genius, and it's the genius Shellard wants us to remember. This book is a thorough, detailed account of Tynan's place in the history of 20th-century English theater, establishing his originality, contributions and achievements.—Lloyd Rose
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300099195
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 6/20/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.46 (h) x 1.58 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction
Acknowledgements
Ch. 1 A Gift for Performance 1
Ch. 2 The Necessary Side 28
Ch. 3 1954-56: Loamshire 87
Ch. 4 1956-58: Writing for Posterity 169
Ch. 5 Dissent 228
Ch. 6 'We know what they are against ... but what are they for?' 251
Ch. 7 Upsetting the Establishment 283
Ch. 8 Private Demons - Centre Stage 315
Notes 351
Select Bibliography 374
Index 378
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