Harold Pinter is one of the greatest British dramatists of our time. Pinter has
written a number of absurd masterpieces including The Birthday Party, The Caretaker,
The Homecoming, Betrayal, Old Times, and Ashes to Ashes. He has also composed a
number of radio plays and several volumes of poetry. His screenplays include The French
Lieutenant's Woman, The Last Tycoon, and The Handmaid's Tale. He has received
numerous awards including the Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear, BAFTA awards, the
Hamburg Shakespeare Prize, the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or and the
Harold Pinter was born on October 10, 1930 in Hackney, East London. He was
the sole child of Jack Pinter and Frances Franklin. His father was a ladies’ tailor whose
family was among Jewish immigrants that reached the East End of London. Both sides
of Harold’s family were Jewish, but they had different personalities and characteristics.
His paternal side was Orthodox Jewish and they had an artistic background, whereas his
maternal side was more secular and skeptical about strict rules of religion and were
known for their entrepreneurial background. Although the Pinter’s were relaxed and
music-loving, they got along well at family gatherings with the noisy and clamorous
Since Harold was an only child, he would imagine a life with brothers and sisters
and would create imaginary friends and play out adventures and scenes in the backyard
of his home. This isolated world created a place where Harold felt warmth and security.
However, this childhood was interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1939. Harold had to
leave his home in Hackney as part of a nationwide evacuation, and along with twenty
four other children, Harold was sent to John Nash, a fabricated castle, from the
elementary school. This was a traumatic and disturbing experience for all of the boys
who were isolated from their homes and families, especially for nine-year old Harold.
Some boys took advantage of this experience and were happy to be exposed to rural life.
“For Harold, the disturbing experience blended with a magical eye opening encounter of
rural life and his tendency to introspect blossomed” (Top Biography). At the same time,
his awareness to sounds and images developed, and these permeated his later life and
This encounter left a mark in Harold’s life; a mark of loss and separation,
astonishment, and loneliness, which are all reflected in his works. It was extremely
difficult to watch other boys receive news about the death of their parents, and only
wonder where his parents were. Harold had a brief reunion with his parents, but it was
recklessly painful to say goodbye again and watch them leave. Along with the agonies
and confusions, the evacuation had some positive affect on Harold. Harold grew stronger
and more independent because of this experience, developed a sense of self-realization,
and sped up his transition from...