‘It affected my attitude towards society. Before I had been vaguely conscious of something rotten somewhere, prison crystallised this. The old whore society really lifted up her skirts and the stench was pretty foul.’ Orton, 1964.

Six months later a different person emerged from prison. The separation from Kenneth Halliwell and the isolation afforded by prison led to a profound change in Orton’s life.

For Halliwell prison had been an appalling and soul-destroying experience, leading to a suicide attempt. Orton’s time in prison was perversely a liberation, where he broke free of Halliwell creatively and found a focus for his distrust of conventional power – the police, church and government.

In an interview with the Leicester Mercury in 1964 Orton explained:

‘I tried writing before I went into the nick … but it was no good. Being in the nick brought detachment to my writing. I wasn’t involved anymore. And suddenly it worked.’

Prison had given Orton the indifference to conventional society he required to enable him to focus on the hypocrisy and double standards of existence.

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