Famous British Playwrights

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If you think penning a drama is as easy as picking a pen and scribbling a sequential story or plot, go ahead. It won’t be too long before you realize that there is more to playwriting that mere play of words. You need inherent creative prowess, engrained ingenuity, vivid imagination and a gripping story to actually write a play. And still it is a job half done for what is a playwright if not for great actors who live up the characters! Coming to playwriting and playwrights, Britain has been the hotspot of theatrical shows since times immemorial. London stage has had the privilege of hosting plays by some of the most creative and original playwrights of the world. Needless to say, British playwrights are masters in this art form of literature – they have an intrinsic understanding of dramatic structure and a deep-embedded insight and knowledge for playwriting. Some of the flourishing British playwrights who have swayed the audience with their play of words and storytelling capabilities include William Shakespeare, Harold Pinter, John Osborne, Lord Byron, D.H. Lawrence, Caryl Churchill, Howard Barker, George Bernard Shaw, Alan Plater, Stephen Lowe and Roy Williams. Keep on reading to get an exhaustive list of some of the famous British playwrights of all times.
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 1 
William Shakespeare
22
Birthdate: April 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stratford-upon-Avon, England
Died: April 23, 1616

English playwright, poet, and actor William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. He is also often called England's national poet. Many of his works have been translated into other languages and his plays continue to be produced till day. Popular during his lifetime, he acquired an iconic status after his death.

 2 
T. S. Eliot
(Best Known as a Leader of the Modernist Movement in Poetry)
T. S. Eliot
6
Birthdate: September 26, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: January 4, 1965
American-born British poet T. S. Eliot is best remembered for his poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, and Ash Wednesday, and his plays such as Murder in the Cathedral. He won the Nobel Prize for literature and became a prominent figure of Modernist poetry.  
 3 
Alan Bennett
(Actor, Screenwriter, Playwright, Diarist, Writer)
Alan Bennett
5
Birthdate: May 9, 1934
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Armley
 4 
Martin McDonagh
(Playwright, Screenwriter, Filmmaker)
Martin McDonagh
9
Birthdate: March 26, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Camberwell

The director and writer of the Academy Award-winning short film, Six Shooter, Martin McDonagh is also well known as a playwright and stage director. The Beauty Queen of Leenane is one of the his noted works. The crime drama film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was another successful venture of McDonagh. He says he prefers films to plays.

 5 
Mark Rylance
9
Birthdate: January 18, 1960
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ashford, United Kingdom

Mark Rylance is an English actor, playwright, and theatre director. He is one of the eight actors to have been honored twice with the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. He is also one of the eight people to have won the British Triple Crown of Acting, having received the BAFTA Television Award, BAFTA Film Award, and Laurence Olivier Award.

 6 
Zoe Kazan
(American Actress Known for Her Role in the TV Series 'Olive Kitteridge')
Zoe Kazan
6
Birthdate: September 9, 1983
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
 7 
P B Shelley
(One of the Epic Poets of the 19th Century)
P B Shelley
5
Birthdate: August 4, 1792
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Warnham, United Kingdom
Died: July 8, 1822
Legendary English Romantic poetry P.B. Shelley is remembered for his masterpieces such as Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, and Prometheus Unbound. He was known for his poetic imagery, and his popularity soared after his premature death due to drowning while boating at age 29. 
 8 
Harold Pinter
(Playwright, Screenwriter)
Harold Pinter
5
Birthdate: October 10, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Metropolitan Borough of Hackney
Died: December 24, 2008
 9 
Sophie Hunter
(Theatre Director)
Sophie Hunter
6
Birthdate: March 16, 1978
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hammersmith, London

Sophie Hunter is an English playwright, opera director, and former performer. She is credited with co-founding and popularizing a theatre company called Boileroom, which was honored with the Samuel Theatre Trust Award in 2007 for its play The Terrific Electric, which marked Sophie Hunter's directorial debut.

 10 
Michaela Coel
(British Actress and Screenwriter Known for Her TV Series: 'Chewing Gum' and 'I May Destroy You')
Michaela Coel
7
Birthdate: October 1, 1987
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
 11 
Tom Stoppard
(Playwright)
Tom Stoppard
5
Birthdate: July 3, 1937
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Zlín, Czechoslovakia
Born in Czechoslovakia, legendary playwright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard had lost his father in the Japanese invasion of Singapore during World War II. The five-time Tony winner is best known for the absurdist tragicomedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He also co-wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay of Shakespeare in Love.
 12 
Ben Jonson
(Dramatist, Poet & Actor)
Ben Jonson
6
Birthdate: June 11, 1572
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England
Died: August 6, 1637
 13 
Henry Graham Greene
5
Birthdate: October 2, 1904
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berkhamsted, England
Died: April 3, 1991

English author Henry Graham Greene, better known as Graham Greene, is remembered for his pathbreaking Catholic novels and thrillers. He was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature. His works include The Third Man and The Human Factor, and his Academy Award-nominated script of the film The Fallen Idol.

 14 
J. B. Priestley
(Novelist and Playwright)
J. B. Priestley
5
Birthdate: September 13, 1894
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died: August 14, 1984
 15 
Christopher Marlowe
(Playwright, Poet)
Christopher Marlowe
6
Birthdate: February 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Canterbury, Kent, England
Died: May 30, 1593

English playwright, poet, and translator, Christopher Marlowe, was one of the major literary figures of the Elizabethan era. It is believed that he greatly influenced his contemporary William Shakespeare. He led a troubled life and died young under mysterious circumstances. Despite his early death, he is regarded as one of the foremost dramatists of the 16th century London.  

 16 
Robert Shaw
(Actor Known for His Role as ‘Henry VIII' in the Drama Film ‘a Man for All Seasons')
Robert Shaw
4
Birthdate: August 9, 1927
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Westhoughton, Lancashire, England
Died: August 28, 1978
 17 
Daphne du Maurier
5
Birthdate: May 13, 1907
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 19, 1989

Daphne du Maurier was an English playwright and author. Many of her works, which have been praised for narrative craft, have been adapted into films, including three of Alfred Hitchcock's movies. Such was her popularity that she was selected along with four other Women of Achievement to be featured on a set of British stamps, which were issued in 1996.

 18 
P G Wodehouse
4
Birthdate: October 15, 1881
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Guildford, England
Died: February 14, 1975
 19 
Jeffrey Archer
(Politician, Novelist, Writer, Playwright, Science fiction writer, Children's writer)
Jeffrey Archer
4
Birthdate: April 15, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London

Jeffrey Archer is an English author and former politician whose books have sold over 320 million copies around the world. Archer has been a controversial figure; he was convicted of perjury in 2001 after which he was sent to Belmarsh Prison from where he was later transferred to Wayland Prison. His conviction ended his political career.

 20 
Sir Noël Peirce Coward
(English Playwright, Composer and Actor Best Known for His Wit and Flamboyance)
Sir Noël Peirce Coward
6
Birthdate: December 16, 1899
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Teddington, England
Died: March 26, 1973

Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English composer, playwright, singer, director, and actor. Renowned for his flamboyance and wit, Coward's style and work continue to influence popular culture. A recipient of several prestigious awards, including an Academy Honorary Award, Coward did not acknowledge his homosexuality publicly, although it was later discussed by biographers like Graham Payn.

 21 
Anthony Minghella
(Screenwriter, Playwright, Film director, Film producer, Writer)
Anthony Minghella
5
Birthdate: January 6, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ryde
Died: March 18, 2008
 22 
Steven Berkoff
4
Birthdate: August 3, 1937
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Stepney, London, England, UK
 23 
Aphra Behn
(Playwright)
Aphra Behn
5
Birthdate: July 10, 1640
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Canterbury, England
Died: April 16, 1689
 24 
John Dryden
4
Birthdate: August 9, 1631
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, England
Died: May 12, 1700
 25 
Mike Leigh
(Film director, Actor, Playwright, Theatre director, Screenwriter, Writer)
Mike Leigh
5
Birthdate: February 20, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brocket Hall
 26 
Carol Ann Duffy
5
Birthdate: December 23, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
 27 
Ian McEwan
(Writer, Screenwriter, Novelist, Playwright, Film producer, Author)
Ian McEwan
5
Birthdate: June 21, 1948
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Aldershot
 28 
Sarah Solemani
(Actress Known for Her Role in the Sitcom ‘Him & Her’ and Film ‘Bridget Jones's Baby’)
Sarah Solemani
5
Birthdate: September 4, 1986
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Camden, London, England
 29 
John Osborne
(Actor, Playwright, Screenwriter, Writer)
John Osborne
4
Birthdate: December 12, 1929
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London
Died: December 24, 1994
 30 
Rupert Holmes
(Composer)
Rupert Holmes
5
Birthdate: February 24, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cheshire, England, UK
 31 
Beverley Cross
(Screenwriter, Librettist)
Beverley Cross
4
Birthdate: April 13, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Greater London
Died: March 20, 1998
 32 
Christopher Isherwood
4
Birthdate: August 26, 1904
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cheshire, England, UK
Died: January 4, 1986
 33 
Amelia Bullmore
5
Birthdate: January 31, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chelsea, London, England, United Kingdom
 34 
Caryl Churchill
(Distinguished British Playwright Best Known for Her Plays: ‘Top Girls’, ‘Cloud 9’ and ‘Serious Money’)
Caryl Churchill
3
Birthdate: September 3, 1938
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
 35 
Robert Greene
(Writer, Playwright)
Robert Greene
5
Birthdate: May 14, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Robert Greene is best known for his international bestsellers such as The 48 Laws of Power, The 33 Strategies of War, and The Art of Seduction. Some of his books have been banned in American prisons and have been described as manipulative, while some have been mentioned in popular songs.

 36 
Frances Hodgson Burnett
5
Birthdate: November 24, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cheetham, Manchester, England
Died: October 29, 1924
 37 
Sarah Kane
(Playwright, Writer)
Sarah Kane
5
Birthdate: February 3, 1971
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brentwood
Died: February 20, 1999
 38 
David Hare
(playwright, screenwriter, film director, theatre director, writer, actor, television director, film producer)
David Hare
4
Birthdate: June 5, 1947
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: St Leonards-on-Sea
 39 
Leigh Lawson
5
Birthdate: July 21, 1945
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Atherstone
 40 
Dorothy L. Sayers
(English crime writer and poet.)
Dorothy L. Sayers
5
Birthdate: June 13, 1893
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Oxford, England
Died: December 17, 1957
 41 
Terence Rattigan
(Playwright)
Terence Rattigan
3
Birthdate: June 10, 1911
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: South Kensington, London, England
Died: November 30, 1977
 42 
John Webster
(Playwright, Poet, Writer, Poet lawyer)
John Webster
3
Birthdate: 1578 AD
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: 1634 AD
 43 
Ivor Novello
(Actor, Playwright, Composer, Writer, Screenwriter, Songwriter)
Ivor Novello
3
Birthdate: January 15, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cardiff
Died: March 6, 1951
 44 
Ian Ogilvy
(Actor)
Ian Ogilvy
4
Birthdate: September 30, 1943
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Woking, Surrey, England, UK
 45 
Joe Orton
(Playwright, Screenwriter, Writer)
Joe Orton
4
Birthdate: January 1, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Leicester
Died: August 9, 1967
 46 
Julia Donaldson
(Writer, Playwright, Author, Children's writer)
Julia Donaldson
5
Birthdate: September 16, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England
 47 
Joseph Addison
(Essayist & Poet)
Joseph Addison
4
Birthdate: May 1, 1672
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Milston, United Kingdom
Died: June 17, 1719
Best known for his articles in the iconic 18th-century periodicals The Tatler and The Spectator, English essayist Joseph Addison had a lifelong collaboration with Richard Steele. Educated at Oxford, he excelled in Latin and classics. A prominent Whig, he mostly wrote on the social and cultural trends of his time.
 48 
Chris Chibnall
(Writer, Producer)
Chris Chibnall
5
Birthdate: March 21, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: England
 49 
Sharman Macdonald
(Playwright, Writer, Screenwriter)
Sharman Macdonald
4
Birthdate: February 8, 1951
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Glasgow
 50 
Rory Kinnear
(Stage and Film Actor Known for His Role of 'Bill Tanner' in Numerous James Bond Films)
Rory Kinnear
4
Birthdate: February 17, 1978
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England