Skip to main content

John Arden (1930 - 2012)

The playwright and novelist, John Arden, has died, age 81. He was a great writer, and long-time friend and supporter of the work of the Russell Foundation. In recent years, he campaigned against the use of Shannon Airport in the West of Ireland as a transit for US military heading to Afghanistan, Iraq and other theatres of war, contrary to the requirements of Ireland's international status as a neutral country. These campaigns also highlighted the use of Shannon for secret "rendition" of prisoners in the so-called "war on terror", who might be tortured on arrival at their destination, as revealed by the Council of Europe.

In 2009, John Arden produced a glorious collection of stories entitled Gallows and Other Tales of Suspicion and Obession, which mingles black comedy with melodrama to probe the underside of Irish and English history from the 17th century to the 21st.

He is the author of a variety of plays, including All Fall Down, which appeared in 1955, Serjeant Musgrave's Dance (1959), Live Like Pigs, and The Non-Stop Connolly Show, co-authored and co-produced in 1975 with Margaretta D'Arcy. The Business Of Good Government (1960) was their first collaboration.

Silence Among the Weapons, his first novel, was short-listed for the Booker Prize. Cogs Tyrannic, a collection of short stories, received the PEN Short Story Prize and his story, 'Breach of Trust', from the 2003 collection, The Stealing Steps, took the V.S.Pritchett Memorial Prize. Books of Bale, a fiction of history, appeared in 1988. He has also written drama for children, radio plays and work for television, including, with Margaretta D'Arcy in 1973, the documentary Sean O'Casey: Portrait of a Rebel.

In order to make Gallows readily available to John Arden’s many admirers in Britain, Spokesman ordered stock from the Irish publishers (Original Writing) for sale through its website.



Michael Coveney has written an obituary for him in the Guardian.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Jeremy Corbyn: Internationalist at Work

Another featured article from the latest issue of The Spokesman comes from the 2011 edition of J. A. Hobson's Imperialism. Jeremy Corbyn penned the book's foreword, which we reprint here under the title 'Internationalist at Work'.
As a separate point of interest, we also include this comparative image of the logo of publication The Week, circa 1960s, and Corbyn's recent campaign logo. Cut from the same cloth? 





Internationalist at Work
J. A. Hobson wrote his great tome at a different age. His thoughts were dominated by the zenith of the British Empire and the Boer War. The outcome of the war demonstrated Britain’s then ability in sustaining global reach, since Elizabethan times, but also its extreme vulnerability. At home the poor physique of working class soldiers led to Haldane’s investigation into working class health and living conditions. The difficulty in containing the rebellious Boers, and the huge opposition to the war, encouraged further doubts about the whol…

'Not as dumb as he looks' - Muhammad Ali on Bertrand Russell

In his autobiography The Greatest: My Own Story, Muhammad Ali recounts how Bertrand Russell got in contact with him, and their ensuing correspondence:


***
For days I was talking to people from a whole new world. People who were not even interested in sports, especially prizefighting. One in particular I will never forget: a remarkable man, seventy years older than me but with a fresh outlook which seemed fairer than that of any white man I had ever met in America.
My brother Rahaman had handed me the phone, saying, ‘Operator says a Mr. Bertrand Russell is calling Mr. Muhammad Ali.’ I took it and heard the crisp accent of an Englishman: ‘Is this Muhammad Ali?’ When I said it was, he asked if I had been quoted correctly.
I acknowledged that I had been, but wondered out loud, ‘Why does everyone want to know what I think about Viet Nam? I’m no politician, no leader. I’m just an athlete.’
‘Well,’ he said, ‘this is a war more barbaric than others, and because a mystique is built up around a cham…

Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain

Tate Liverpool: Exhibition 28 February – 11 May 2014
Adult £8.80 (without donation £8) Concession £6.60 (without donation £6)
Help Tate by including the voluntary donation to enable Gift Aid

Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain, is a new take on how the changes in the meaning of words reflect the cultural shifts in our society. This dynamic exhibition takes its name and focus from the seminal 1976 Raymond Williams book on the vocabulary of culture and society.
An academic and critic influenced by the New Left, Williams defined ‘Keywords’ as terms that repeatedly crop up in our discussion of culture and society. His book contains more than 130 short essays on words such as ‘violence’, ‘country’, ‘criticism’, ‘media’, ‘popular’ and ‘exploitation’ providing an account of the word’s current use, its origin and the range of meanings attached to it. Williams expressed the wish some other ‘form of presentation could be devised’ for his book, and this exhibition is one such int…