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Sir Alan Ayckbourn

One of Britain’s most popular – and prolific – playwrights, and a talented director, Sir Alan Ayckbourn has, over the last 50 years gained an enviable reputation for his prodigious output and his wry observations of the British middle class.

Today, he remains a popular figure both in the UK and abroad; at Haileybury, the Ayckbourn Theatre is named in his honour.

A prolific playwright of international renown

Sir Alan Ayckbourn was born in Hampstead, London on the 12 April, 1939. A prolific writer of plays and farces (79 by 2015), he has endeared himself to generations of fans not just in Great Britain but around the world.

Early years

After attending Haileybury (Trevelyan, 1952-56), he took a temporary job at the Scarborough Library Theatre where he met his mentor, the director Stephen Joseph, who was to have a profound influence on his future career.

He wrote his first script in 1958 which, after criticism by Joseph, led the following year to The Square Cat under the pseudonym Roland Allen. This was to be the first of a long line of plays, nearly all of which were conceived for performance in the round.

A life of writing

During his career, Ayckbourn has specialised in writing plays which feature comic truthfulness, with works such asRelatively Speaking and How the Other Half Loves sealing his reputation.

For many, he has come to define the angst and struggles of the British middle class in plays such as Absurd Person Singular, the Norman Conquests trilogy and Bedroom Farce.

An exceptional talent

Since his earliest days, Ayckbourn’s plays have rarely been off the stage – or out of the news – and his output has been prodigious, with his work being translated into over 35 languages.

He has also worked extensively as a director, retiring finally as artistic director of the Stephen Joseph theatre (as the Scarborough Library Theatre is now known) in 2009.

International recognition

Alan Ayckbourn remains a popular figure and is still active at his typewriter even today. Awarded a CBE in 1987 and a knighthood a decade later, he has also received numerous other awards from the industry he serves, including Induction into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2008.

He has also earned both the Olivier and Tony Special Lifetime Achievement Awards, the first British playwright to do so.

Here at Haileybury, he is always given a warm welcome whenever he returns. The Ayckbourn Theatre, which has hosted many different performances down the years, is named in his honour.

Learn more

Click on any of the links below for more information about Sir Alan Ayckbourn and his career: