In August 1955, George Devine, director of London’s Royal Court Theatre, ventured to meet a promising writer, living on a Thames houseboat. “I had to borrow a dinghy… wade out to it and row myself to my new playwright,” he recalled. Thus began a partnership between Devine, who sought to rescue the English stage from stale commercialism, and the 26 year old tyro, John Osborne. Together, they’d revolutionize modern theater.
Born in London but raised in Stoneleigh, Surrey, Osborne lost his father at age 12, resented his low-born mother and was expelled from school for striking a headmaster. While acting for Anthony Creighton’s repertory company, his mercurial temper and violent language appeared. In 1951 he wed actress Pamela Lane, only to divorce six years later. Osborne soon immortalized their marriage: their cramped apartment, with invasive friends and intruding in-laws, John and Pamela’s pet names and verbal abuse,