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Rodney Ackland Biography

(1908–90), The Old Ladies, Crime and Punishment, Strange Orchestra, Birthday, Before the Party, A Dead Secret

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British dramatist, born in Westcliffe-on-Sea, educated at Balham Grammar School and the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art. He worked as an actor while developing his craft as a playwright. His work includes adaptations, notably of Hugh Walpole's The Old Ladies (1935) and Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment (1947), as well as Strange Orchestra (1931), Birthday (1934), Before the Party (1949), A Dead Secret (1957), and other original pieces. His best-known and most frequently revived play, remains The Dark River (1938), which primarily involves the contrasting reactions of a cross-section of people—some frivolous and nostalgically concerned with the past, others rather more responsibly concerned with the present and the future—to the Spanish Civil War and the dangers posed by fascism. Because of its careful portraiture of individuals cut off in the English countryside, along with its sense that traditional ways of life are threatened and perhaps doomed, it has been compared, albeit generously, with the work of Chekhov. Ackland also wrote numerous film scripts, collaborating with Terence Rattigan on Uncensored and Bond Street, and published an autobiography, The Celluloid Mistress (1954).

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