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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.

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