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Yorkshire playwright, diarist and raconteur who openly detests his oft-applied sobriquet of "national treasure".
Born in 1934, the son of a Leeds butcher, Alan Bennett gained a scholarship to Oxford and prepared himself for a career as a medieval historian. However, Bennett soon discovered that he had thespian tendencies and became increasingly active in local stage productions and revues. Bennett achieved fame and notoriety in 1960 when he appeared in Beyond the Fringe with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Jonathan Miller. Throughout the 1960s Bennett continued to write for (and occasionally appear in) satirical sketch-based shows, but his real passion was drama and during the 1970s he made a name for himself as a playwright.
Bennett's wistful, melancholy style and fine ear for the nuances of Northern, working-class speech have transformed him from an enfant terrible into a national treasure ( a sobriquet he detests) and when he published his diaries Writing Home in the mid-nineties, it topped the bestseller lists. He followed up with Untold Stories in 2005, which proved equally popular, and in autumn 2006, a successful adaptation of his play, The History Boys, was released as a film. Bennett's work adapts exceptionally well to audio and he is perhaps the single most successful British writer and performer in that format.