In the 1950s Orton created an alter ego, Edna Welthorpe, guardian of public morals and inveterate letter writer. Orton used Edna’s letters to goad authority into revealing their own innate idiocy and priggishness.

Orton was not above writing letters criticising his own plays in order to generate controversy (and column inches). A letter of complaint from a JHP Joy was passed to Orton from the Criterion Theatre and Orton responded as Edna, asking if he will join her in setting up a meeting with the Lord Chamberlain to protest about the play.

Edna was not his only character and over the years, right up to his death, Orton wrote letters under different pseudonyms, which he used to create mischief and argument. A selection of letters by Edna and others are featured in the following pages, showing another facet of Orton’s wicked sense of humour

Click Next to see some of Edna's correspondance.....

On 9 August 2017, actors, writers and comedians gathered at The Little Theatre, Leicester, to celebrate the life, work and legacy of Joe Orton 50 years after his death.
Find out more about the event and the Edna Welthorpe project - including new Edna Welthorpe letters at

Follow the links below to video interviews about Orton
An interview with Alec Baldwin here
An interview with Frances Barber here
An interview with Graham Fellows (aka John Shuttleworth) here
You can find other interviews with actors, writers and directors here


Image: Courtesy The Orton Estate/Joe Orton Collection at the Library of the University of Leicester   Text © Leicester City Councill  

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