Arnold Wesker late 1960s. Photo taken by Dusty Wesker. © Arnold Wesker
Arnold Wesker, the British playwright, who passed away yesterday on 12th April provided Lebrecht Music & Arts with many previously unseen images of his life – growing up as a young boy, photographs with his family, cousins, mother and father and during the early years of his rise to fame. Lebrecht photographer Horst Tappe captured him at the peak of his success.
Arnold Wesker was famous for his trilogy Chicken Soup with Barley (1958), Roots (1958) and I’m Talking about Jerusalem (1960). The trilogy was performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London.
During his life he wrote more than 40 plays, as well as short stories, essays and poetry. He was translated into many languages and his work was widely performed outside the UK.
He was linked to the 1950s post-war rise of playwirghts from working class backgrounds writing ‘ kitchen-sink drama’ and was also described as one of the ‘Angry Young Men’ of the 1950s. These were descriptions he rejected and is quoted as saying:
“You’re not a good writer because you come from a working class background and you’re not a good writer because you’ve been through university. You’re a good writer because you’re a good writer and it’s the work that matters, not the labels that surround you.”
He will be greatly missed.
© Horst Tappe
Arnold Wesker as a baby © Arnold Wesker
Arnold Wesker with two cousins on the balcony of the Upper clapton council estate where he lived © Arnold Wesker
Arnold Wesker and his first child. © Arnold Wesker
John Arden, Margaretta Darcy and Arnold Wesker at a festival Arden and Darcy held in their home, late 1970s © Arnold Wesker
Arnold Wesker, Arthur Miller and Malcolm Bradbury on the campus of the University of East Anglia © Arnold Wesker
Sir Arnold Wesker at the Hay Festival, 2004 © Kathy de Witt
Handwritten draft of I’m Talking about Jerusalem dated 9 December 1958 © Arnold Wesker