Talk of me sometimes. Speak well of me. Actors live on only in the memory of others. Speak well of me.' The Dresser, Act Two
Ronald Harwood is one of the foremost playwrights and screenplay writers alive today. He has won an Oscar for his adaptation of The Pianist, a BAFTA for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and has been celebrated in the theatre for his classic play, The Dresser, which has been adapted for both television and cinema – most recently in a BBC production starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins. His life has been one of adventure and achievement.
He was born Ronald Horwitz, the youngest child of a poor South African couple, Ike and Bella, originally from Lithuania and East London respectively. After developing a love of the West End through inspirational teachers and battered copies of a magazine called Theatre World., he came to Britain following the offer
of an interview at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1951. Subsequently he joined the theatre company of the famous actor-manager Donald Wolfit, who would later provide the inspiration for the central character of The Dresser>
This book is not only aimed at lovers of cinema and theatre, but also readers who are interested in the human struggle of a man who has overcome great obstacles to achieve success in his chosen field. It explores some of the moral dilemmas which Harwood has faced in his own lifetime, from the guilt of having accepted the apartheid system while growing up in South Africa to his decision to collaborate on two occasions with the controversial film director Roman Polanski.
Speak Well of Me> is a biography based on a series of interviews with Ronald Harwood, as well as extensive study of his press-cuttings and personal papers. Many of his contemporaries, including Tom Stoppard, Arnold Wesker, Antonia Fraser, Tom Courtenay and Antony Sher have also shared their memories with the author.
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