Alan Bennett's award-winning series of solo pieces is a classic of contemporary drama, universally hailed for its combination of razor-sharp wit and deeply felt humanity. In Bed Among the Lentils, a vicar's wife discovers a semblance of happiness with an Indian shop owner. In A Chip in the Sugar, a man's life begins to unravel when he discovers his aging mother has rekindled an old flame. In A Lady of Letters, a busybody pays a price for interfering in her neighbor's life. First produced for BBC television in 1988 to great critical acclaim, the Talking Heads monologues also appeared on the West End Stage in London in 1992 and 1998. In 2002, seven of the pieces were performed at the Tiffany Theater in Los Angeles for a highly praised brief engagement, and in 2003 a selection of the monologues premiered in New York at the Minetta Lane Theatre. These extraordinary portraits of ordinary people confirm Alan Bennett's place as one of the most gifted, versatile, and important writers in the English Language.
Alan Bennett is perhaps best known in the UK for the BBC production of his Talking Heads TV plays, while the rest of the world may recognize him for the film adaptation of his play, The Madness of King George. O'Mealy points out that Bennett is a social critic strongly influenced by Beckett and Swift, interested in depicting and analyzing the role playing of everyday life, a'la sociologist Ervin Goffman.
Forty Years On, Getting On, Habeas Corpus and Enjoy
Author: Alan Bennett
Publisher: Faber & Faber
This collection of Alan Bennett's work includes his first play and West End hit, Forty Years On, as well as Getting On, Habeus Corpus, and Enjoy. Forty Years On 'Alan Bennett's most gloriously funny play ... a brilliant, youthful perception of a nation in decline, as seen through the eyes of a home-grown school play ... a classic.' Daily Mail Getting On Winner of the Evening Standard Best Comedy Award in 1971, Getting on is an account of a middle-aged Labour MP, so self-absorbed that he remains blind to the fact that his wife is having an affair with the handyman, his mother-in-law in dying, his son is getting ready to leave home, his best friend thinks him a fool and that to everyone who comes into contact with him he is a self-esteeming joke. Habeus Corpus 'After two elegiac comedies about the decline of old England, Mr Bennett has now written a gorgeously vulgar but densely plotted facre that is a downright celebration of sex and the human body ... a combination of hurtling action with verbal brilliance.' Guardian Enjoy Enjoy uncannily foresaw the attitudes to English working-class life now enshrined in themeparks. 'The classic tug in Bennett between childhod Yorkshire and intellectual sophistication has never been better, or more daringly expressed.' Observer
Kafka's Dick; Insurance Man; Old Country; Englishman Abroad; Question of Attribution
Author: Alan Bennett
Publisher: Faber & Faber
This second volume of plays by Alan Bennett includes his two Kafka plays, one an hilarious comedy, the other a profound and searching drama. Also included is An Englishman Abroad and A Question of Attribution. The fascination of these two plays lies in the way they question our accepted notions of treachery and, in different ways, make a sympathetic case for Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt.
** Ebook available for pre-order now -- released 8 July 2020 ** Two brand-new monologues in the Talking Heads series, as seen on BBC1 and iPlayer 'Given the opportunity to revisit the characters from Talking Heads I've added a couple more, both of them ordinary women whom life takes by surprise. They just about end up on top and go on, but without quite knowing how. Still, they're in good company, and at least they've made it into print.' Alan Bennett's twelve Talking Heads are acknowledged masterworks by one of our most highly acclaimed writers. Some thirty years after the original six, Bennett has written Two Besides, a pair of monologues. Each, in its way, is a devastating portrait of grief. In An Ordinary Woman, a mother suffers the inevitable consequences when she makes life intolerable for herself and her family by falling for her own flesh and blood; while The Shrine tells the story behind a makeshift roadside shrine, introducing us to Lorna, bearing witness in her high-vis jacket, the bereft partner of a dedicated biker with a surprising private life. The two new Talking Heads were recorded for the BBC during the exceptional circumstances of coronavirus lockdown in the spring of 2020, directed by Nicholas Hytner and performed by Sarah Lancashire and Monica Dolan. The book contains a substantial preface by Nicholas Hytner and an introduction to each, by Alan Bennett.
'I seem to have banged on this year rather more than usual. I make no apology for that, nor am I nervous that it will it make a jot of difference. I shall still be thought to be kindly, cosy and essentially harmless. I am in the pigeon-hole marked 'no threat' and did I stab Judi Dench with a pitchfork I should still be a teddy bear.' Alan Bennett's third collection of prose Keeping On Keeping On follows in the footsteps of the phenomenally successful Writing Home and Untold Stories, each published ten years apart. This latest collection contains Bennett's peerless diaries 2005 to 2015, reflecting on a decade that saw four premieres at the National Theatre (The Habit of Art, People, Hymn and Cocktail Sticks), a West End double-bill transfer, and the films of The History Boys and The Lady in the Van. There's a provocative sermon on private education given before the University at King's College Chapel, Cambridge, and 'Baffled at a Bookcase' offers a passionate defence of the public library. The book includes Denmark Hill, a darkly comic radio play set in suburban south London, as well as Bennett's reflections on a quarter of a century's collaboration with Nicholas Hytner. This is an engaging, humane, sharp, funny and unforgettable record of life according to the inimitable Alan Bennett.
Already a bestseller, this is a wonderfully entertaining collection of Alan Bennett's prose writings. Writing Home brings together diaries, reminiscences and reviews to give us a unique and unforgettable portrait of one of England's leading playwrights. As a memoir it covers the production of his very first play, Forty Years On, which starred John Gieldgud. His television series 'Talking Heads' has become a modern-day classic; as part of the 1960s revue 'Beyond the Fringe' Bennett helped to kick-start the English satire revolution, and has since remained one of our leading dramatists, most recently with The History Boys at the National Theatre. At the heart of the book is The Lady in The Van, since adapted into a radio play featuring Dame Maggie Smith. It is the true account of Miss Mary Shepherd, a homeless tramp who took up residence in Bennett's garden and stayed for fifteen years. This new edition also includes Bennett's introduction to his Oscar-nominated screenplay for The Madness of King George and his more recent diaries.
Alan Bennett's first collection of prose since Writing Home takes in all his major writings over the last ten years. The title piece is a poignant family memoir with an account of the marriage of his parents, the lives and deaths of his aunts and the uncovering of a long-held family secret. Bennett, as always, is both amusing and poignant, whether he's discussing his modest childhood or his work with the likes of Maggie Smith, Thora Hird and John Gielgud. Also included are his much celebrated diaries for the years 1996 to 2004. At times heartrending and at others extremely funny,Untold Stories is a matchless and unforgettable anthology. Since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s Alan Bennett has delighted audiences worldwide with his gentle humour and wry observations about life. His many works include Forty Years On, The Lady in the Van, Talking Heads, A Question of Attribution and The Madness of King George. The History Boys opened to great acclaim at the National in 2004, and is winner of the Evening Standard Award, the South Bank Award and the Critics' Circle Award for Best New Play. 'Perhaps the best loved of English writers alive today.' Sunday Telegraph Untold Stories is published jointly with Profile Books.
Adapted by the author from his autobiographical memoir, The Lady in the Van tells the story of Miss Mary Shepherd, whom Alan Bennett first came across when she was living in the street near his home in Camden Town. Taking refuge with her van in his garden originally for three months, she ended up staying fifteen years. Funny, touching and unexpectedly spectacular, The Lady in the Van marked the return to the stage of one of our leading playwrights. The Lady in the Van with Maggie Smith opened at the Queen's Theatre, London, in December 1999.
Theebook edition of Alan Bennett's celebrated monologues 'Alan Bennett's Talking Heads is pretty much the best thing ever.' David Sedaris Alan Bennett sealed his reputation as the master of observation with Talking Heads, a series of twelve groundbreaking monologues, originally filmed for BBC Television, starring Patricia Routledge, Thora Hird, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Stephanie Cole, Eileen Atkins, David Haig, Penelope Wilton and Alan Bennett himself. Uplifting, deeply moving, full of humanity and wit, they remain essential, glorious reading.
The Clothes They Stood Up In is Alan Bennett's first story. Like Charles Dickens' novels which were first published in magazines, it originally appeared in the London Review of Books - which the author says 'seems to me (and not just because I occasionally contribute to it) the liveliest, most serious and also the most radical literary periodical we have'.
This book includes material which has appeared in the 'Listener' since Karl Miller became editor in 1967. Much of it was originally broadcast, but Mr. Miller has also drawn on other material --in particular pieces concerning the current situation in broadcasting (about which the paper has become an important source of infomred opinion), and reviews.
Alan Bennett's second story. This time, set in the 1970s, in classic Bennett country, Yorkshire. 'On the many occasions Midgley had killed his father, death had always come easily. He died promptly, painlessly and without a struggle. Looking back, Midgley could see that even in these imagined deaths he had failed his father. It was not like him to die like that. Nor did he.' Midgley is determined to deny his father a last occasion to be disappointed in him. He will do the right thing and sit by his father's bed-side in Intensive Care until he dies. But, even when he is unconscious, his father manages to make Midgley's life a misery. This is another classic story by Alan Bennett, with brilliant portraits of social hypocrisy and stifling family relationships.
The Uncommon Reader is none other than HM the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. She reads widely ( JR Ackerley, Jean Genet, Ivy Compton Burnett and the classics) and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people like the oleaginous prime minister and his repellent advisers. She comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with much that she has to do. In short, her reading is subversive. The consequence is, of course, surprising, mildly shocking and very funny.
Like everything Bennett does, these stories are playful, witty and painfully observant of ordinary people's foibles. They all have brilliant twists, are immensely entertaining and highly moral. And all are modern classics. The Laying on of Hands The painfully observant account of a memorial service for a masseur to the famous. The Clothes They Stood Up In The comic tale of an elderly couple's trials after their flat is stripped completely bare. Father! Father! Burning Bright The savage satire on the family of a dying man who rules over them from his hospital bed. The Lady in the Van The true story of the eccentric old woman who is invited to live in a homeowner's front garden. She stays there, in her van, for fifteen years. The home is Alan Bennett's. It became a West End hit, starring Maggie Smith.