|The author in 1977|
Alan Bennett is something of a national treasure in England. He was one of the men behind Beyond the Fringe, a British comedy stage revue that was part of the 1960 Edinburgh International Festival. The revue was written and performed by Bennett along with comedy powerhouses Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller, & Dudley Moore. In the U.K. he is famous for scripting such television programs as Talking Heads, a series of dramatic monologues broadcast in the '80s & '90s that featured the talents of Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Eileen Atkins, & Penelope Wilton. Patricia Routledge (of Keeping Up Appearances) was in one called "A Lady of Letters" - "Irene Ruddock is a working class single woman living near Bradford who is not afraid to speak, or rather write, her mind: she writes letters to her MP, the police, the chemist – everyone she can, to remedy the social ills she sees around her. After one too many accusations of misconduct from Irene's pen, she is sent to prison – where, for the first time in her life, ironically, she truly feels free and happy." Bennett's sharp humor can be merciless!
We don't have a huge amount of Alan Bennett in the library catalog, but do check out The Uncommon Reader [ "A royal fable celebrating the transformative properties (and a few of the unsettling consequences) of reading as an obsession. In a country of commoners, the uncommon reader is the Queen"-Kirkus Reviews]. Alan Bennett also reads the audiobook, & he is an excellent reader. Writing Home & Untold Stories are both collections of his essays & memoirs.
Alan Bennett's new book is called Smut, described as a "charming, sneaky little work of fiction, two novellas concerning two middle-aged, middle-class British matrons" [Publisher's Weekly Reviews]. The book is called titled Smut: Two Unseemly Stories in the U.K.