World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Emlyn Williams

Article Id: WHEBN0000147238
Reproduction Date:

Title: Emlyn Williams  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: The Corn Is Green (1979 film), Richard Burton, List of British films of 1935, List of British films of 1938, List of British films of 1932
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Emlyn Williams

Emlyn Williams
Portrait by Allan Warren
Born George Emlyn Williams
(1905-11-26)26 November 1905
Mostyn, Flintshire, Wales, UK
Died 25 September 1987(1987-09-25) (aged 81)
London, England, UK
Occupation Actor/Dramatist
Years active 1927–85

George Emlyn Williams, CBE (26 November 1905 – 25 September 1987), known as Emlyn Williams, was a Welsh dramatist and actor.

Biography

He was born into a Welsh-speaking, working class family in Glan-yr-afon, Mostyn, Flintshire.

Aged 11 he won a scholarship to Holywell Grammar School. At the end of his time at the grammar school he won a scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford where he read French and Italian and joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS).[1]

His first full-length play, Full Moon, was premiered at the original Oxford Playhouse in 1927, the year he joined a repertory company and began his stage career. By 1930, he had expanded his writing with works such as A Murder Has Been Arranged and The Late Christopher Bean. He became an overnight star, however, with his thriller Night Must Fall (1935), in which he also played the lead role of a psychopathic murderer. The play was noted for its exploration of the killer's complex psychological state, a step forward for its genre. It was made into a film in 1937 with Robert Montgomery, and again in 1964 with Albert Finney. It has been frequently revived, including on Broadway in 1999 with Matthew Broderick and most recently in the West End with Jason Donovan.

His other great play was very different: [2]

His autobiographical light comedy, The Druid's Rest was first performed at the St Martin's Theatre, London, in 1944. It saw the stage debut of Richard Burton whom Williams had spotted at an audition in Cardiff. The play has been revived at Clwyd Theatr Cymru in both 1976 and 2005, and received its first London revival in sixty years at London's Finborough Theatre in 2009.

In addition to stage plays, Williams wrote a number of film screenplays, working with Major Barbara (with Wendy Hiller and Rex Harrison), José Ferrer's I Accuse! (playing Émile Zola), The Wreck of the Mary Deare (with Gary Cooper), The L-Shaped Room (with Leslie Caron), and a made-for-TV adaptation of Charles Dickens's David Copperfield (with an all-star cast including Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, Ralph Richardson and Edith Evans).

In 1941 Williams starred in the film You Will Remember, directed by Jack Raymond and written by Major Barbara.

His only film as a director, The Last Days of Dolwyn (1949), which he also wrote and starred in, marked the screen debut of his fellow Welshman, Richard Burton.

Williams often appeared in his own plays, and was famous for his one-man-shows, with which he toured the world, playing Charles Dickens in an evening of excerpts from Dickens' novels. This "one man show" was the start of a whole new theatrical genre. He followed up his Dickens performance with one man shows based on the works of Dylan Thomas, Dylan Thomas Growing Up, and H.H. Munro better known under his pseudonym Saki.

His post-war acting credits included BBC documentary The Great War (1964).

Among Williams' other books was the best seller Beyond Belief: A Chronicle of Murder and its Detection (1968), a semi-fictionalised account of the Moors murderers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. His 1980 novel Headlong, the fictional story of the unexpected death of the entire British royal family in a freak accident in 1930, and the ascension of a most unlikely heir to the British throne as a result, was the loose basis of the 1991 motion picture King Ralph which stars John Goodman, Peter O'Toole, John Hurt and Camille Coduri. It was a comedic treatment of Headlong and was set in the contemporary United Kingdom. Goodman's character is a failed lounge singer named Ralph Jones whose grandmother had an affair with the fictional Duke of Warren, in the line of succession of the "House of Windam", a not too subtle play on the House of Windsor, the current royal house of the sitting monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. King Ralph mentions the "House of Stuart" as the antagonist's royal House, which was in fact the actual royal house 200 years before the Windsors. John Hurt plays Lord Percival Graves, the antagonist plotting to regain the throne for the House of Stuart, and for himself as the first in the House of Stuart's line of succession. King Ralph did reasonably well at the box office in 1991.

Williams' autobiography, in the volumes George (1961) and Emlyn (1973), was also highly successful. In both books, he wrote frankly of his homosexual experiences; indeed, he was publicly "out" as a bisexual before other better-known gay literary celebrities, such as his close friend and contemporary Christopher Isherwood.

Williams was married in 1935 to actress Mary Marjorie O'Shann (Molly Shan), who died in 1970. They had two sons, Alan, a writer, and Brook, an actor. Brook Williams became a close friend of Richard Burton's, working as Burton's personal assistant and appearing in many of Burton's films, sometimes even dubbing Burton's voice.

But both during his marriage and following his wife's death, Williams was actively bisexual throughout his adult life. He maintained a relationship from 1981 to 1986 with American theatre journalist Albert N. Williams (no relation), whom Emlyn Williams met while appearing at the Northlight Theatre in the Chicago area with his one-man Charles Dickens show. (Albert Williams served as Emlyn Williams' personal assistant during a 1982 tour of England, Wales and Ireland with the Charles Dickens and Dylan Thomas solo shows.)

Emlyn Williams was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1962.

Emlyn Williams died at his flat in Dovehouse Street, Chelsea, London — aged 81, from complications from cancer on 25 September 1987.

Bibliography

Plays

Filmography

References

  1. ^ Carpenter, Humphrey, O.U.D.S.: A Centenary History of the Oxford University Dramatic Society 1885–1985, Oxford University Press, 1985 (ISBN 0-19-212241-X)
  2. ^ Isherwood, Charles. Rescuing a Student From a Life in the Mines. New York Times. 7 August 2007.[1]
  3. ^ Bibliographic detail taken from a copy of George, Williams autobiography published by Random House New York in 1961
  4. ^ Release date for The Magic Box, in IMDb.

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.