Blue Plaque for John Osborne in Brook Green

Look Back in Anger was written in a flat on Caithness Road

The 'Angry Young Man' of British Theatre wrote his best known play in Brook Green
The 'Angry Young Man' of British Theatre wrote his best known play in Brook Green

On the 65th anniversary of the first performance of Look Back in Anger at the Royal Court Theatre a Blue Plaque to John Osborne has been placed at the house in Brook Green where it was written.

The English Heritage London Blue Plaque was put up on 8 May to honour the revolutionary post-war playwright. The plaque marks 53 Caithness Road in Hammersmith, the terraced red-brick property which was his London base at the time he wrote Look Back in Anger, arguably his best-known work and inspired by his life with his wife, actress Pamela Lane, in the ground floor flat. He drew on Pamela for the character of Alison Porter.

Osborne has been credited with transforming post-war theatre and attracting to the theatre a new, younger audience. Dubbed the era’s “angry young man”he became an icon, enshrined in popular and cultural myth. Whilst Look Back in Anger remains his most famous work, almost all of Osborne’s plays and film scripts in the 1950s and 1960s were commercially successful and critically acclaimed.

He lived with his wife Pamela Lane in a ground floor flat
He lived with his wife Pamela Lane in a ground floor flat

Alan Hollinghurst, novelist and English Heritage Blue Plaques Panel member said, “John Osborne reinvigorated British theatre in the mid-20th century. Challenging and questioning the status quo, his brilliant plays attracted new audiences and inspired a whole new generation of screenwriters and playwrights. We are delighted to recognise the Hammersmith home where he lived around the time of writing the play that made him famous.”

Playwright and director Sir David Hare believes Osborne sparked a theatrical revolution, saying, “John Osborne had the most sensational London debut of any playwright in the English language in the 20th century. It was John’s brilliance and originality which led so many to help relocate the theatre at the centre of Britain’s cultural and intellectual life. Everyone who followed owes him a debt.”

Born in London in 1929, John Osborne started working as a stage manager and actor in 1948, writing plays on the side. In 1955 he wrote Look Back in Anger, the play that began his meteoric rise as a playwright.

Performed for the first time in 1956 at the Royal Court Theatre, it immediately caused a critical stir for its representation of post-war youth and blistering monologues – very different from much of the genteel theatre of the time. From then on, Osborne became a star, with a string of hit plays and films – including The Entertainer with Laurence Olivier – in the UK and US, pursued by gossip columnists and photographers wherever he went throughout the 50s and 60s.

In 1976, Osborne left London and his close relationship to the theatrical world to live first in Kent and then in Shropshire. Living the life of a country gentleman, he wrote mostly prose, including two autobiographical books A Better Class of Person (1981) and Almost a Gentleman (1992), which gave brutal accounts of former colleagues, friends, wives and his mother. His last play, Déjà Vu, which returned to the now middle-aged characters from Look Back in Anger, was brought to the West End in 1992. After many years of ill-health, Osborne died on 24 December 1994.


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May 10, 2021