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The Orton Diaries Paperback – 22 Aug 1996

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • The Orton Diaries
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  • Complete Plays: "Entertaining Mr. Sloane", "Loot", "What the Butler Saw", "The Ruffian on the Stair", "The Erpingham Camp", "Funeral Games", and "The ... "Funeral Games" "Good and Faithful Servant"
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  • Prick Up Your Ears: The Biography of Joe Orton
Total price: £35.97
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press Ed edition (22 Aug. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306807335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306807336
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Back Cover

"To be young, good-looking, healthy, famous, comparatively rich, and happy is surely going against nature". When Joe Orton (1933-1967) wrote those words in his diary in May 1967, he was being hailed as the greatest comic playwright since Oscar Wilde for his darkly hilarious Entertaining Mr. Sloane and the farce hit Loot, and was completing What the Butler Saw; but less than three months later, his longtime companion, Kenneth Halliwell, smashed Orton's skull in with a hammer before killing himself. The Orton Diaries, written during his last eight months, chronicle in a remarkably candid style his outrageously unfettered life: his literary success, capped by an Evening Standard Award and overtures from the Beatles; his sexual escapades - at his mother's funeral, with a dwarf in Brighton, and, extensively, in Tangiers; and the breakdown of his sixteen-year "marriage" to Halliwell, the relationship that transformed and destroyed him. Edited with a superb introduction by John Lahr, The Orton Diaries is his crowning achievement.

About the Author

The plays of Joe Orton (1933--1967)--Loot, What the Butler Saw, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, and others--rank with Oscar Wilde's as some of the most outrageous and hilarious of our time. He was brutally murdered by his male lover at the peak of his career.


Customer Reviews

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Thoroughly enjoyed this romp through the literary/theatrical world of 1960's London. I first became interested in Orton through reading Kenneth Williams' diaries and KW makes a few appearances during the book.

That said, it is not a book for the faint-hearted or easily offended. There are many (sometimes lengthy) descriptions of gay liaisons, particularly in the section based in Tangier.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, but was well aware of its content before I bought it.
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As a piece of writing this is pretty fascinating -- the diary of playwright Joe Orton from the six months or so leading up to his murder. It's this diary that apparently goaded Orton's lover Kenneth Halliwell into bashing Orton's head in with a hammer in August, 1967, and as a reader, you see it happening, the diary packed with often amusing descriptions of Halliwell's unfolding nervous breakdown juxtiposed with Orton's growing celebrity, success, sociopathic egotism and wild sexual promiscuity. Pretty horrifying the way Orton and Halliwell behaved with underage boys on vacation in Morocco. I give that ZERO STARS. They were clearly a couple of bastards. But as a document, as a piece of writing, it is unusual, biting, funny.
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Highly recommended! Many of the great and well-known post-war diaries (e.g. those of Alan Clark, "Chips" Channon, Harold Nicolson) who written by members of the ruling class. Too many recent diaries by politicians (e.g. Alistair Campbell, Robin Cook etc.) were obviously written with an eye on future publication and have dated very quickly. By contrast, Joe Orton's diaries were written by an exceptionally talented young writer - working class, gay - at the absolute height of his powers. His diary was written in the last eight months (January-August 1967) of his short life and is spontaneous and very funny, and at the same time that he wrote two highly successful plays, as well as revising others. The diary divides into three sections: January-May (London), June-July (Tangier) and July-August (the final days before he was murdered) and even now, more than 40 years later, the observations are still fresh. Of course, the irony is that Orton - highly intelligent and self-aware - did not see that the growing depression of his partner, Kenneth Halliwell, would lead to their deaths.
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A candid diary of radical playwright Joe Orton's daily life in swinging 60's London as he pioneered a ground breaking theatrical exposure of Britain's establishment hypocrisy and persecution towards homosexuals.
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"It's a disgrace!" That's what Kenneth Williams would often say about his friend Joe Orton's sexual antics in 1960s London. An excellent read. The book arrived in good condition and I was pleased with the service.
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a tad too shocking for me and I am broadminded. I don't want to come out with any spoilers but if there ever was a reason for KH smashing Orton's skull open it was laid out plainly in the diaries. I'd say it was unlikely KH was jealous or resentful of Orton's poaching his ideas enough to do the deed. The ages of Orton's desired prey and the distances he would travel to feed his sickness would more seem like the reason. Orton always wanted to shock but he seemed to sicken more than shock. A sleezy meet in a toilet is one thing but he'd have better to stick to legal aged victims. Personally I'd have knighted KH for hammering the brains out of Orton's skull. A good book to read to get to the real truth as opposed to the bizarre take shown in Prick Up Your Ears.
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