Harold Pinter is generally seen as the foremost representative of British drama in the second half of the 20th century. That he occupies a position as a modern classic is illustrated by his name entering the language as an adjective used to describe a particular atmosphere and environment in drama: ‘Pinteresque’.

Pinter made his playwriting debut in 1957 with The Room, presented in Bristol. Other early plays were The Birthday Party (1957), at first a fiasco of legendary dimensions but later one of his most performed plays, and The Dumb Waiter (1957). His conclusive breakthrough came with The Caretaker (1959), followed by The Homecoming (1964) and other plays.

It is said of Harold Pinter that following an initial period of psychological realism he proceeded to a second, more lyrical phase with plays such as Landscape (1967) and Silence (1968) and finally to a third, political phase with One for the Road (1984), Mountain Language (1988), The New World Order (1991) and other plays. But this division into periods seems oversimplified and ignores some of his strongest writing, such as No Man’s Land (1974) and Ashes to Ashes (1996). In fact, the continuity in his work is remarkable, and his political themes can be seen as a development of the early Pinter’s analysing of threat and injustice.

Since 1973, Pinter has won recognition as a fighter for human rights, alongside his writing. He has often taken stands seen as controversial. Pinter has also written radio plays and screenplays for film and television. Among his best-known screenplays are those for The Servant (1963), The Accident (1967), The Go-Between (1971) and The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981, based on the John Fowles novel). Pinter has also made a pioneering contribution as a director.

Harold Pinter was married to the writer Lady Antonia Fraser and lived in London. In 2005, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature – Art, Truth and Politics is a transcript of his acceptance speech He died in December 2008.