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Happy (belated) birthday, Joe Orton

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 2, 2013 05:14pm | Post a Comment
Joe Orton

Yesterday, had he not died in 1967, would've been the 79th birthday of my favorite, English, comic playwright, Joe Orton (provided he didn't pass away for some other reason in the intermediate years).

Saffron Lane council estate being built in 1927
Saffron Lane council estate being built in 1927

John Kingsley "Joe" Orton was born 1 January in Leicester to William A Orton and Elsie M Orton (nėe Bentley). Joe's father worked as a gardener for the Leicester County Borough Council whilst his mom was in footwear until tuberculosis (and the subsequent removal of a lung) led to an early retirement. When Joe was two his family moved from Clarendon Park to the Saffron Lane council estate where the family was soon rounded out by the addition of Douglas, Marilyn, and Leonie.

After several serious bouts of asthma, Orton left school and took a position as a junior clerk making £3 a week in 1947. Over the next couple of years he developed an interest in improving his physical stateKenneth Halliwell and Joe Orton and in theater. In pursuit of the former he took up body building, in pursuit of the former he joined several dramatic societies and local, amateur productions. He also wished to continue his education and began attending Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London on scholarship in 1951.

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