INTRODUCTION

  WHO WAS JOE ORTON?  
       

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JOE ORTON

 

John Kingsley Orton was born in Leicester in 1933 and from the age of two, lived on the Saffron Lane council estate. After winning a scholarship to RADA in 1951, he met Kenneth Halliwell, an actor and writer seven years his senior. Halliwell would become Orton’s friend, mentor, lover and, eventually, his murderer.

Between 1964 and 1967, Joe Orton contributed to an exciting working class culture that swept through the nation. A promiscuous and openly gay man at a time when homosexuality was actively persecuted by the police, Orton was the rising star of an ‘alternative British intelligentsia’.

His first stage play, Entertaining Mr Sloane, was a huge success while his second, Loot, won the coveted Evening Standard award for Best Play. However, Orton’s success as a playwright and celebrity put a distance between himself and Kenneth Halliwell that the latter found increasingly difficult to cope with.

In August 1967 Halliwell, by now suffering from severe depression, murdered Orton before killing himself. His suicide note referred to the contents of Orton's diary as an explanation of his actions: ‘If you read his diary, all will be explained …’

In his short but prolific career, Joe Orton amused audiences with his scandalous black comedies. This site explores the life and times of the man who made religion, sex and death outrageously funny.


ORTON NEWS AUTUMN 2016

EXCITING NEWS!
Leonie Orton's briliant new Memoir 'I Had it in Me' was published in Oct 2016
Available to order here

I Had It In Me is the memoir of Leonie Orton, Joe's youngest sister. Leonie tells her own story of growing up on a Leicester council estate in the 1940s and 1950s as her brother rose to become a remarkable writer. For the first time
she recounts how the family coped with his brutal murder and lost diaries.
She also describes her fight to educate herself, nurture her own family
and eventually take over the management of her brother’s legacy.

Meet the author: Nottingham
Tuesday 15th November at Five Leaves Bookshop.

And as part of Literary Leicester Festival in November 2016:
Join Leonie Orton to discuss her memoir 'I Had It in Me'

More details and links here

 
   
 
Image: Courtesy The Leicester Mercury   Text © Leicester City Council  

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