Pinter's dramas often involve strong conflicts among ambivalent characters who struggle for verbal and territorial dominance and for their own versions of the past; stylistically, these works are marked by theatrical pauses and silences, comedic timing, irony, and menace.Thematically ambiguous, they raise complex issues of individual identity oppressed by social forces, language, and vicissitudes of memory. Although Pinter publicly eschewed applying the term "political theatre" to his own work in 1981, he began writing overtly political plays in the mid-1980s, reflecting his own heightening political interests and changes in his personal life. This "new direction" in his work and his left-wing political activism stimulated additional critical debate about Pinter's politics. Pinter, his work, and his politics have been the subject of voluminous critical commentary.
The Room (1957)
The Birthday Party (1957)
The Caretaker (1959)
The Homecoming (1964)
The Servant (1963)
The Go-Between (1970),
The Trial (1993)
Although he was a "solitary" only child, he "discovered his true potential" as a student at Hackney Downs School, the London grammar school "where Pinter spent the formative years from 1944 to 1948. … Partly through the school and partly through the social life of Hackney Boys' Club … he formed an almost sacerdotal belief in the power of male friendship. The friends he made in those days—most particularly Henry Woolf, Michael (Mick) Goldstein and Morris (Moishe) Wernick—have always been a vital part of the emotional texture of his life. Significantly "inspired" by his English teacher, mentor, and friend Joseph Brearley, "Pinter shone at English, wrote for the school magazine and discovered a gift for acting" (Billington, Harold Pinter 10–11). He wrote poetry frequently and published some of it as a teenager, as he has continued to do throughout his career. He played Romeo and Macbeth in 1947 and 1948, in productions directed by Brearley (Billington, Harold Pinter 13–14). He especially enjoyed running and broke the Hackney Downs School sprinting record (Gussow, Conversations with Pinter 28–29).
Pinter is the author of 29 plays, 15 dramatic sketches, 26 screenplays and film scripts for cinema and television, a novel, and other prose fiction, essays, and speeches, many poems, and co-author of two works for stage and radio. Along with the 1967 Tony Award for Best Play for The Homecoming and several other American awards and award nominations, he and his plays have received many awards in the UK and elsewhere throughout the world. His screenplays for The French Lieutenant's Woman and Betrayal were nominated for Academy Awards in the category of "Writing: Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium" in 1981 and 1983, respectively.
An Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and an Honorary Fellow of the Modern Language Association of America (1970), Pinter was appointed CBE in 1966 and became a Companion of Honour in 2002 (having previously declined a knighthood in 1996). In 1995 and 1996 he accepted the David Cohen Prize, in recognition of a lifetime's literary achievement, and the Laurence Olivier Special Award for a lifetime's achievement in the theatre, respectively. In 1997 he became a BAFTA Fellow. He received the World Leaders Award for "Creative Genius", as the subject of a week-long "Homage" in Toronto, in October 2001. A few years later, in 2004, he received the Wilfred Owen Award for Poetry—"in recognition of Pinter's lifelong contribution to literature, 'and specifically for his collection of poetry entitled War, published in 2003' " (Wilfred Owen Association Newsletter). In March 2006 he was awarded the Europe Theatre Prize, in recognition of lifetime achievements pertaining to drama and theatre ("Letter of Motivation"). In conjunction with that award, from 10 March to 14 March 2006, Michael Billington coordinated an international conference on "Pinter: Passion, Poetry, Politics", including scholars and critics from Europe and the America.
Nobel Prize for Literature:
On 13 October 2005 the Swedish Academy announced that it had decided to award the Nobel Prize for Literature for that year to "Harold Pinter … Who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms" (press release).
When interviewed about his reaction to the Nobel Prize announcement by Billington, Pinter joked: "I was told today that one of the Sky channels said this morning that 'Harold Pinter is dead'. Then they changed their mind and said, 'No, he's won the Nobel prize.' So I've risen from the dead"
Nobel Week, including the Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony in Stockholm and related events throughout Scandinavia, began in the first few days of December 2005. Due to medical concerns about his health, Pinter and his family could not attend the Awards Ceremony and related events of Nobel Week. After the Academy notified him of his award, he had arranged for his publisher (Stephen Page of Faber and Faber) to accept his Nobel Diploma and Nobel Medal at the Awards Ceremony scheduled for 10 December, but he had still planned to travel to Stockholm, to present his lecture in person a few days earlier (Honigsbaum). In November, however, he was hospitalized for an infection that nearly killed him, and his doctor barred such travel.
Laurence Olivier Award (1996)
Companion of Honour (2002)
Nobel Prize in Literature (2005)
Légion d'honneur (2007)