Robert Bolt (Robert Oxton Bolt) Biography
(1924–95), (Robert Oxton Bolt), Flowering Cherry, The Tiger and the Horse, Vivat, Vivat Regina
British dramatist, born and educated in Manchester, the son of a shopkeeper. He was working as a schoolmaster when his Flowering Cherry was performed in London in 1957. That play, about a salesman who impotently dreams of escape to the country, was followed by The Tiger and the Horse (1960), which reflected Bolt's own involvement in anti-nuclear politics. Vivat, Vivat Regina (1970) and State of Revolution (1977), respectively involving Elizabeth's destruction of Mary, Queen of Scots and the compromises forced on the Bolsheviks after their seizure of power, both achieved modest success; but Bolt's most enduring play has proved to be his study of Thomas More, A Man for All Seasons (1960). This shows More's at first affectionate relationship with Henry VIII, his resignation as Chancellor and ‘eloquent silence’ after the King's divorce, remarriage, and rejection of the ‘Bishop of Rome’, his refusal to deny the spiritual authority of the pope, his imprisonment, trial, conviction, and execution. Telling all this in a somewhat Brechtian style, with a character called the ‘Common Man’ as occasional narrator and commentator, Bolt substantially fulfils his declared aim as a dramatist, which is to combine thoughtfulness with theatricality, a degree of moral subtlety with an audience's ‘straightforward, childlike, primitive desire to know’. He has also written several important screenplays, notably for Lawrence of Arabia and Dr Zhivago, as well as for the film of his own A Man for All Seasons.