Amadeus and Equus playwright Sir Peter Shaffer dies aged 90 during a visit to Ireland


Sir Peter Shaffer, celebrated writer of Equus and Amadeus, has died at the age of 90 after a short illness.

The renowned playwright died at the Marymount Hospice in Ireland, with family by his side, his agent said.

A statement from Macnaughton Lord Representation said: "It is with great sorrow that we must announce the death of our friend and client, Sir Peter Shaffer CBE whilst on a visit to Ireland with friends and family. He was 90."

Sir Peter Shaffer has died at the age of 90
Sir Peter Shaffer has died at the age of 90 (AP)

Sir Peter "passed away peacefully" at 5.30am on June 6 at the hospice in Co Cork with his niece Cressida at his side.

The statement continued: "His great friend and American agent, Dennis Aspland remained with him in Ireland throughout his short illness. He had been struggling with his health for some time, but was both determined and delighted to have been able to celebrate his 90th birthday in Ireland last month with close family and friends."

Respected as "one of the true greats of British theatre", he was also described by his spokesman as "a wonderful friend, wickedly funny man and sparkling raconteur" who also had a love of "music, painting and architecture".

His agent said his close family and friends would like to thank the staff who "cared for him so well" at Bon Secours Hospital and Marymount Hospice.

Sir Peter Shaffer with Daniel Radcliffe in 2008
Sir Peter Shaffer with Daniel Radcliffe in 2008 (Carmen Valino/PA)

Sir Peter wrote more than 18 plays including the 1975 Tony award-winning Equus, which later starred Daniel Radcliffe, and Amadeus, which won eight Academy Awards when it was adapted for the big screen in 1984.

Other famous works include Black Comedy, Lettice And Lovage, The Royal Hunt Of The Sun and Five Finger Exercise. Much of his working life was linked to the National Theatre, for which several of his plays were written and first produced.

Rufus Norris, director of the National Theatre, said: "Peter Shaffer was one of the great writers of his generation and the National Theatre was enormously lucky to have had such a fruitful and creative relationship with him. The plays he leaves behind are an enduring legacy."

Sir Peter Shaffer
Sir Peter Shaffer (AP)

A statement on the National Theatre website said: "It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Sir Peter Shaffer, CBE. He was an extraordinary writer, closely associated with the National Theatre.

"The Royal Hunt Of The Sun was the first premiere of a new play ever produced by the National Theatre Company.

"It was first presented at the Chichester Festival and subsequently at the Old Vic in 1964. His next play, Black Comedy, made its debut the following year with a cast that brought together Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi and Albert Finney."

Dame Maggie Smith starred in a Peter Shaffer play
Dame Maggie Smith starred in a Peter Shaffer play (Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

The theatre added that Amadeus will return to the Olivier stage in the first National Theatre revival since its 1979 premiere.

Sir Peter, who was nominated for numerous awards over the course of his career, was awarded the CBE in 1987 and knighted in 2001. He lived in New York for a number of years, but loved to visit London and Ballymaloe House in Co Cork "in particular".

His agent said the celebrated writer "is survived by his brother, Brian, nephews Milo and Mark and nieces Cressida and Claudia, whose father and Peter's twin, the playwright and screenwriter, Anthony Shaffer, died in 2001´´.

Sir Peter Shaffer
Sir Peter Shaffer (Patrick McMullan/AP)

"We shall all miss him terribly," he said.

A private funeral will take place in London "shortly" and details of a memorial ceremony will be announced in due course.