Renowned playwright Sir Arnold Wesker dies aged 83

The prolific British playwright Sir Arnold Wesker has died aged 83, according to his family.

The London-born writer penned scores of plays, several books and a collection of poems. He was best-known for his trilogy of plays Chicken Soup With Barley, Roots, and I'm Talking About Jerusalem, created in the late 1950s, and his 1962 work Chips With Everything.

Over a career that spanned five decades Sir Arnold achieved global recognition, with some of his plays translated into 20 languages. Copies of his works sold in the hundreds of thousands.

Sir Arnold Wesker
Sir Arnold Wesker (Steve Parsons/PA)

Arnold Wesker was born on May 24 1932 and educated at Upton House School in Hackney, east London. He had a string of jobs including furniture maker's apprentice, carpenter's mate, bookseller's assistant, plumber's mate, farm labourer, seed sorter, kitchen porter and pastry cook, plus national service in the RAF in 1950-52.

After that he embarked on his prolific career as a playwright, scriptwriter and author. In his early years, his name was associated, some say erroneously, with a group of playwrights regarded as Angry Young Men.

Sir Arnold directed his own plays in Havana, Stockholm, Munich, Aarhus, London, Oslo, Madison and Denison universities in the US, and Rome.

He was once described as "the unique outsider in the British theatre", but the arts establishment had differing views on his abilities, even though he could pack theatres the world over.

His debut novel, Honey, was released in 2005 and a year later, Sir Arnold was knighted in the 2006 New Year's Honours list.

At the time of his 70th birthday, the author wrote: "And though, like most writers, I fear dying before I write that one masterpiece for which I'll be remembered, yet I look at the long row of published work that I keep before me on my desk and I think, not bad, Wesker, not bad."

His granddaughter Leanne Courvoisier revealed the playwright's passing on Twitter.

Comedienne and actress Jenny Eclair tweeted: "Met Arnold Wesker at hay lit fest many years ago - he approved of my filth - which was lovely."

Arnold's final work, The Rocking Horse, was a radio play commissioned for the 75th anniversary of the BBC World Service in 2007.

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