R[onald] E. Ewart, Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance [York Notes Ser.] (Librairie d Liban 1982)

Bio-data on John Arden: b. Barnsley, 26 Oct. 1930; ed. Sedburgh, King’s Coll., Cambridge; army; arch. Ass t., London, Fellow in Playwriting, Bristol Univ., 1959-60; visiting lect. In Politics and Drama, NYU, 1967; Regents Lect., Davis Calif., 1973; Writer in Res., New England U., Australia, 1975; m. D’Arcy, 1957; lives in Co. Galway. Remarks: Later plays more deliberately socialist and doctrinaire.

Bibliography of Arden’s Works
The Waters of Babylon, slum landlordism (1957), first presented with All Fall Down by students at at Edinburgh Univ. in 1955;
The Life of Man, radio (1956);
The Waters of Babylon, slum landlordism (1957) [in Three Plays (Penguin 1969)]
Live Like Pigs, housing estate between itinerant family of Sawneys and respectable Jacksons (1958) [in Three Plays (Penguin 1969)]
and The Happy Haven (1960), on old age [in Three Plays (Penguin 1969)]
The Hero Rises Up, with Margaret D’Arcy (Methuen 1968), on Lord Nelson
Three Plays (Penguin 1969), contains The Waters of Babylon; Live Like Pigs; and The Happy Haven]
Two Autobiographical Plays, incl. The Bagman (Methuen 1971)
The Ballygombeen Bequest, with D’Arcy Scripts 1 (London 1972), first performed in Belfast by students, 1972, concerning absentee English landlord
Plays: One (London: Methuen 1978), contains Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance (1959) [set in Yorkshire 1860-80]; The Workhouse Donkey (1963) [on municipal corruption confronted by puritanical police chief], and Armstrong’s Last Goodnight (1964) on Scottish border violence in 1530s].
a novel, Silence Among the Weapons, picaresque 1st c. b.c. (1982).
Left-Handed Liberty (1965) [written to celebrate 750th anniv. of Magna Carta]
Business of Good Government (1960)
Ars Longa Vita Brevis (1963)
The Royal Pardon (1966)
The War Carnival (1967) [on Vietnam staged in Drama Dept. of NYU, where it culminated with Arden’s asserting that the CIA had commissioned the play, after which he trampled the US flag]
The Island of the Mighty (1972) [on King Arthur]

Note also: his contribs. to New Statesman (1972) includes a passionate denouncement of the portrair of the Irish as troublemakers and their exploitation as comic relief by English playwrights since the sixteen century.

Reference, M. Anderson, Anger and Detachment (Pitman 1976); R. Hayman, John Arden (Heinemann 19680 Albert Hunt, Arden: A Study of His Plays (Methuen 1974); T. E. Milne, ‘The Hidden Face of Violence’, in The Encore Reader (Methuen 1965); J. Russell, Anger and After. Rev. edn. (Eyre Methuen 1976); S. Trussler, John Arden (Columbia UP 1973); G. Wellwarth, The Theatre of Protest and Paradox (NYU Press 1964)

See also John Arden, To Present the Pretence (Eyre Methuen 1977), a selection of writings since 1965, incl. play-reviews, and articles on playwrights, world affairs, Ireland and theatre in Britain.
W. Wager, The Playwrights Speak (NY: Delacorte Press 1967), incl. interview with Arden from Tulane Drama Review (1967).

[ back ]
[ top ]