TOM STOPPARD Biography - Writers


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Tom Stoppard                                                                                   
Pseudonym William Boot (as a theatre critic)                                                   
Born July 3, 1937                                                                               
Zln, Czechoslovakia                                                                           
Occupation Playwright and screenwriter                                                         
Nationality British                                                                             
Genres dramatic comedy                                                                         
Subjects various, clever wordplay, quick-cut banter                                             
Debut works Lord Malquist and Mr Moon (novel), Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are                   
Dead (play)                                                                                     
Sir Tom Stoppard, OM, CBE (born as Tom Straussler on July 3, 1937) is a                       
British Academy Award winning screenwriter and Tony Award winning playwright.                   
Born in Zlín, Czechoslovakia, he is famous for plays such as The Coast of Utopia,             
Arcadia, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Rock 'N' Roll, and also for co-writing           
screenplays for Brazil and Shakespeare in Love.                                                 
Stoppard was born on July 3, 1937 in Zln, Czechoslovakia and moved to                         
Singapore[1] with other Jews on March 15, 1939, the day the Nazis invaded. In                   
1941, the family was evacuated to Darjeeling, India, to escape the Japanese                     
invasion of Singapore. His father, Eugene Straussler, remained behind as a                     
British army volunteer, and died in a Japanese prison camp after capture.                       
In India, Stoppard received an English education. In late 1945, his mother                     
Martha married a British army major named Kenneth Stoppard, who gave the boys                   
his English surname and moved the family with him to England after the war, in                 
1946. Stoppard attended the Dolphin School in Nottinghamshire, and later                       
completed his education at Pocklington School in Yorkshire.                                     
Stoppard left school at seventeen and began work as a journalist for Western                   
Daily Press in Bristol. Thus, he never received a university education.[3] He                   
remained there from 1954 through 1958. In 1958, the Bristol Evening World                       
offered Stoppard the position of feature writer, humor columnist and secondary                 
drama critic, which took Stoppard into the world of theater. At the Bristol                     
Old Vic (at the time a well-regarded regional repertory company), Stoppard                     
formed friendships with director John Boorman and actor Peter O'Toole early in                 
their careers. In Bristol, he became known more for his strained attempts at                   
humor and unstylish clothes than for his writing.                                               
By 1960, he had completed his first play A Walk on the Water, which was later                   
re-packaged as 1968's Enter a Free Man. Stoppard noted that the work owed much                 
to Robert Bolt's Flowering Cherry and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.                     
Within a week after sending A Walk on the Water to an agent, Stoppard received                 
his version of the "Hollywood-style telegrams that change struggling young                     
artists' lives." His first play was optioned, later staged in Hamburg, and                     
then broadcast on British Independent Television in 1963.                                       
From September 1962 until April 1963, Stoppard worked in London as a drama                     
critic for Scene magazine, writing reviews and interviews both under his name                   
and the pseudonym William Boot (taken from Evelyn Waugh's Scoop). In 1964, a                   
Ford Foundation grant enabled Stoppard to spend 5 months writing in a Berlin                   
mansion, emerging with a one-act play titled Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Meet                 
King Lear, which later evolved into his Tony-winning play Rosencrantz &                         
Guildenstern Are Dead. In the following years, Stoppard produced several                       
works for radio, television and the theater, including "M" is for Moon Among                   
Other Things (1964), A Separate Peace (1966) and If You're Glad I'll Be Frank (1966).           
The 1967 London opening of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead at the Vic                       
Theatre made Stoppard an overnight success.                                                     
Over the next ten years, in addition to writing some of his own works, Stoppard                 
translated various plays into English, including works by Slawomir Mrozek,                     
Johann Nestroy, Arthur Schnitzler, and Vaclav Havel. It was at this time that                   
Stoppard became influenced by the works of Polish and Czech absurdists.                         
"Stoppardian" has become a term used to refer to works in which an author makes                 
use of witty statements to create comedy while addressing philosophical concepts.