Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter was an English playwright, director, screenwriter and actor. With a career spanning 50 years, he is thought to be one of the most influential playwrights in English history. Many of his plays were adopted for the big screen and he was hugely celebrated in his life.


Harold Pinter authored 29 plays and is one of the most influential playwrights of modern times. Pinter’s playwright career began when one of his friends, Henry Woolf, asked him to write a play for a student production at the University of Bristol for his postgraduate degree and the play was well received. His plays gained widespread notoriety and he received many awards for his work both in the UK and abroad. Pinter received the 1967 Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, the most prestigious award in theatre, for his play ‘The Homecoming’. In fact Pinter’s work was so influential and critically acclaimed his writing style entered the English language as an adjective, Pinteresque, used to describe an atmosphere of menace.

Pinter’s plays were famous for blending menace with comedy: two contrasting moods. His talent for being able to blend such contrasting styles earned him many plaudits and launched his career as a playwright. Along with the creating a mood of sinistry and menace, many of Pinter’s works have recurring themes, which are a source of debate to this day. Power and sex are two themes that permeate Pinter’s plays, and many of his plays center around the relationships between men and women.

Pinter’s portrayal of women is a particular cause of debate to this day with many people saying that he had a positive attitude towards women, and many claiming the opposite. There is evidence for both in his plays and in his personal life, as he was involved in many affairs as his first marriage declined, but there are also strong female characters in his plays, such as Ruth in ‘’The Homecoming’’.


For most of his early career, Pinter steered away from politics entering his plays, however by the 1980s Pinter was heavily involved in politics and this was seen by the political messages in his plays, as he was strongly anti-American, and spoke out against wars, injustices and dictatorships around the world. When Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005, his speech included strong condemnation of American foreign policy and advocacy for many left-win ideals.

Harold Pinter was one of the most influential and successful playwrights in English history. His plays established many new techniques that were not used before him. His impact on the world is still echoed to this day by a word in the English dictionary dedicated to him: Pinteresque.