Friday, December 29, 2006

Sir Terence Rattigan and The Browning Version


Reportedly, Terence Rattigan, while a schoolboy, had an affair with the racing correspondent of the Daily Express. (Source: Geoffrey Wansell, 1995, Terence Rattigan)
Sir Terence Rattigan (1911–1977) was one of Britain's most famous writers of plays and films. His works included The Winslow Boy (1946) and The Browning Version (1948).

Rattigan preferred boys to girls. His plays appeared to be 'straight' but were secretly gay.

For example, Rattigan's play 'Table Number Seven' is about a Major who has trouble with the law, involving sex. Rattigan was secretly writing about the homosexuality of the Major. Rattigan, in order to avoid censorship, made the Major appear to be 'straight'. Rattigan did write a version of the play in which the Major was clearly gay, but this version was only presented in the theatre sometime after Rattigan's death.
In Britain, the Lord Chamberlain censored the public theatre from 1737 until the end of the 1950s. Homosexuality was banned from the stage.

Terence Rattigan's play, The Browning Version, is about the last few days in the career of The Crock, Andrew Crocker-Harris, a relatively young classics teacher at a British private school.
The Crock feels unloved by his pupils, and by his wife. He has poor health and is being forced to retire.
The Crock has been giving private tuition to a young pupil called Taplow.

Taplow gives The Crock a gift, the "Browning Version", Robert Browning's translation of The Agamemnon. Inside the book, Taplow has written an inscription, in Latin, which translates as "God from afar looks graciously upon a gentle master."
The Crock is moved to tears.
The Crock's wife, Millie, claims that the gift is not sincere. She claims the gift is false flattery. She tells The Crock that she had earlier seen Taplow doing a mocking impersonation of "The Crock."
However, it turns out that Taplow really is rather fond of his teacher.
Reportedly, Rattigan had an affair, while a schoolboy, with the racing correspondent of the Daily Express. (Geoffrey Wansell, 1995, Terence Rattigan)
"Rattigan had the misfortune to come of age as a gay man in the England of the 1930s, when such matters were still criminalized and prosecuted... He often dealt with his homosexuality by veiling it in his works; indeed, even First Episode, which was heavily censored for the stage, shocked people with its suggestions of homoerotic attractions among Oxford students. Rattigan would have his heroes involved in heterosexual relationships in his other works, but often featured an unspoken bond and loyalty among men that stood in for his real meanings" Terence Rattigan - Biography - Filmography - Movies - New York Times

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