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Henry Livings Biography

(1929– ), Stop It Whoever You Are, Big Soft Nellie, Nil Carborundum, Eh?, Kelly's Eye

lancashire stop protagonist anti

British dramatist, born in Prestwich, Lancashire, educated at Liverpool University. He worked in the theatre as an actor before writing several comedies whose anti-heroic heroes are usually the resilient, if slightly gormless, members of an oppressed Northern working class. These plays are often, though not invariably, written in a quirky, somewhat surreal style that itself reflects their author's anti-authoritarian instincts and love of eccentricity. They include Stop It Whoever You Are (1961), Big Soft Nellie (1961), Nil Carborundum (1962), and Eh? (1964), whose protagonist is the quintessential Livings character Valentine Brose, a boiler-man who pays less attention to the exotic machinery it is his task to tend than to the narcotic mushrooms he is growing in its vicinity. Other work has included the powerful Kelly's Eye (1964), about the brutality and violence of the 1930s as exemplified not just by a society soon to go to war, but by the protagonist, himself destroyed after murdering his best friend; The Ffinest Ffamily in the Land (1970), a comedy about the sexual adventures of the cartoon Lancastrians who inhabit some high-rise flats; a version of Kleist's The Shattered Jug called Jug (1975); and the sombre Stop the Children's Laughter (1990), based on a true case of child murder in Victorian Lancashire.

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