Composers and their stage works 


Born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, 26 October 1930. Educated at schools in Barnsley; Sedbergh School, Yorkshire, 1944-48; King's College, Cambridge, 1950-53, B.A. in architecture 1953; Edinburgh College of Art, 1953-55, diploma in architecture 1955. Served in the British Army Intelligence Corps, 1949-50: lance-corporal. Married the actress Margaretta Ruth D'Arcy, q.v., in 1957; five sons (one deceased). Architectural assistant, London, 1955-57; full-time writer from 1958. Fellow in playwriting, Bristol University, 1959-60; visiting lecturer in politics and drama, New York University, 1967; Regents' lecturer, University of California, Davis, 1973; writer-in-residence, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, 1975. Founder, Committee of 100 anti-nuclear group, 1961; chair Peace News pacifist weekly, London, 1966-70; co-founder, Corrandulla Arts and Entertainment, County Galway, Ireland, 1973; founding member, Theatre Writers' Group (now Theatre Writers' Union), 1975. Recipient: BBC Northern Region prize, 1957; Encyclopaedia Britannica prize, 1959; Evening Standard award, 1960; Trieste Festival award, 1961; Vernon Rice award, 1966; John Whiting award, 1973 PEN Macmillan Silver Pen award, 1992. Lives in Galway.


  1. All Fall Down (produced 1955).
  2. The Waters of Babylon (produced 1957).
  3. When Is a Door Not a Door? (produced 1958).
  4. Live Like Pigs (produced 1958).
  5. Serjeant Musgrave's Dance: An Unhistorical Parable(produced 1959). 1960; revised version (produced 1972).
  6. The Happy Haven, with Margaretta D'Arcy (produced 1960).
  7. Soldier, Soldier (televised 1960).
  8. The Business of Good Government: A Christmas Play, with Margaretta D'Arcy (also co-director: as A Christmas Play, produced 1960; as The Business of Good Government, produced 1978). 1963.
  9. Wet Fish (televised 1961).
  10. The Workhouse Donkey: A Vulgar Melodrama(produced 1963). 1964.
  11. Ironband, adaptation of a play by Goethe (produced 1963). 1965.
  12. Armstrong's Last Goodnight: An Exercise in Diplomacy(produced 1964). 1965.
  13. Ars Longa, Vita Brevis (for children), with Margaretta D'Arcy (produced 1964).
  14. Play Without Words (produced 1965).
  15. Fidelio, adaptation of a libretto by Joseph Sonnleithner and Friedrich Treitschke, music by Beethoven (produced 1965).
  16. Left-Handed Liberty: A Play about Magna Carta (produced 1965). 1965.
  17. Friday's Hiding, with Margaretta D'Arcy (produced 1966).
  18. The Royal Pardon orThe Soldier Who Became an Actor (for children), with Margaretta D'Arcy (also co-director: produced 1966). 1967.
  19. The True History of Squire Jonathan and His Unfortunate Treasure (produced 1968).
  20. The Hero Rises Up: A Romantic Melodrama, with Margaretta D'Arcy (also co-director: produced 1968). 1969.
  21. The Soldier's Tale, adaptation of a libretto by Ramuz, music by Stravinsky (produced 1968).
  22. Harold Muggins Is a Martyr, with Margaretta D'Arcy and the Cartoon Archetypical Slogan Theatre (produced 1968).
  23. The Bagman; or, The Impromptu of Muswell Hill (broadcast 1970).
  24. Two Hundred Years of Labour History, with Margaretta D'Arcy (produced 1971).
  25. Granny Welfare and the Wolf, with Margaretta D'Arcy and Roger Smith (produced 1971).
  26. My Old Man's a Tory, with Margaretta D'Arcy (produced 1971).
  27. Rudi Dutschke Must Stay, with Margaretta D'Arcy (produced 1971).
  28. The Ballygombeen Bequest, with Margaretta D'Arcy (produced 1972). revised version, as The Little Gray Home in the West: An Anglo-Irish Melodrama (produced 1982), 1982.
  29. The Island of the Mighty: A Play on a Traditional British Theme, with Margaretta D'Arcy (produced 1972; section produced, as Handful of Watercress, 1976). 1974;
  30. The Devil and the Parish Pump, with Margaretta D'Arcy and Corrandulla Arts and Entertainment (produced 1974).
  31. The Crown Strike Play, with Margaretta D'Arcy and the Galway Theatre Workshop (produced 1974).
  32. The Non-Stop Connolly Show: A Dramatic Cycle of Continuous Struggle in Six Parts, with Margaretta D'Arcy (also co-director: produced 1975). 5 vols., 1977-78; 1 vol. edition, 1986.
  33. Sean O'Scrudu, with Margaretta D'Arcy and the Galway Theatre Workshop (produced 1976).
  34. The Mongrel Fox, with Margaretta D'Arcy and the Galway Theatre Workshop (produced 1976).
  35. No Room at the Inn, with Margaretta D'Arcy (produced 1976).
  36. Silence, with Margaretta D'Arcy and the Galway Theatre Workshop (produced 1977).
  37. Mary's Name, with Margaretta D'Arcy and the Galway Theatre Workshop (produced 1977).
  38. Blow-in Chorus for Liam Cosgrave, with Margaretta D'Arcy and the Galway Theatre Workshop (produced 1977).
  39. Vandaleur's Folly: An Anglo-Irish Melodrama, with Margaretta D'Arcy (also codirector: produced 1978). 1981.
  40. Pearl: A Play about a Play Within the Play (broadcast 1978). 1979.
  41. The Old Man Sleeps Alone (broadcast 1982).
  42. The Mother, with Margaretta D'Arcy, adaptation of a play by Brecht (produced 1984).
  43. The Making of Muswell Hill, with Margaretta D'Arcy (produced 1984).
  44. Whose Is the Kingdom?, with Margaretta D'Arcy (broadcast 1988). 1988.

Radio Plays:

  1. The Life of Man, 1956;
  2. The Bagman, 1970;
  3. Keep These People Moving! (for children), with Margaretta D'Arcy, 1972;
  4. Pearl, 1978;
  5. To Put It Frankly, 1979;
  6. Don Quixote, from the novel by Cervantes, 1980;
  7. The Winking Goose (documentary), 1982;
  8. Garland for a Hoar Head, 1982;
  9. The Old Man Sleeps Alone, 1982;
  10. The Manchester Enthusiasts, (in two parts) with Margaretta D'Arcy, 1984, (in three parts), as The Ralahine Experiment, 1985;
  11. Whose Is the Kingdom?, with Margaretta D'Arcy, 1988.

Television Plays:

  1. Soldier, Soldier, 1960;
  2. Wet Fish, 1961;
  3. Sean O'Casey: Portrait o f a Rebel (documentary), with Margaretta D'Arcy, 1973 (Ireland).


Short Stories:

Other Publications:


Critical Studies: