Renowned Playwright and Political Activist Harold Pinter Dies

Cancer claims Nobel prizing winning former Chiswick resident

Related Links

Playwright wins Nobel Prize for Literature

Playwright's former Chiswick home for sale

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Comment on this story on the

Former Chiswick resident Harold Pinter died from cancer on Christmas Eve aged 78.

He wrote more than 30 plays including The Caretaker and The Birthday Party and film scripts including The French Lieutenant's Woman. His writing style was so distinctive, the word "Pinteresque" made it into the Oxford English Dictionary.

Pinter was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 and following treatment, announced that he was on the road to recovery. In 2005, the same year he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, he announced that he had given up writing for the theatre in order to concentrate on political work.

His reputation was established in 1960 with his second full-length play, The Caretaker, whose events have distinct parallels with experiences in Pinter’s life in Chiswick with his first wife, Vivien, and their son, Daniel.  And it was their former Chiswick home that was said to be the inspiration behind the squalid, leaky setting of his most famous work. 

The playwright - who was a tenant at 373 Chiswick High Road between 1958 and 1963 - based the characters of Aston and Mick on two real-life brothers who also lived there. When the brothers invited a tramp to stay at the house, Pinter found easy inspiration for the play's third character: the itinerant Davies.

Michael Billington's biography of Pinter quotes him as saying: 'It was a very threadbare existence ... I was totally out of work. So I was very close to this old derelict's world, in a way.'

December 26, 2008