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William Douglas Home Biography

(1912–92), Now Barabbas, The Chiltern Hundreds, The Reluctant Debutante, The Secretary Bird

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: John Hersey Biography to Honest Man's Revenge

British dramatist, born in Edinburgh, son of the 13th Earl of Home, educated at New College, Oxford, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. After working as an actor, and serving as a captain in the Royal Armoured Corps, he came to public notice in 1947 with Now Barabbas, set in a prison as a murderer waits to be executed. His subsequent work has included drawing-room comedies, notably The Chiltern Hundreds (1947), in which an earl's socialist son is beaten in an election by his father's butler; The Reluctant Debutante (1955), about the pressures of the London ‘season’; and The Secretary Bird (1968); and ‘straight’ plays, including The Thistle and the Rose (1949), about the events preceding Flodden; The Queen's Highland Servant (1967), about Queen Victoria's relationship with John Brown; and The Dame of Sark (1974), about the German occupation of the smallest of the Channel Islands. Critically, Home became a prime victim of the reaction against ‘mandarin’ boulevard drama, but he continued to write prolifically, achieving modest public success with Lloyd George Knew My Father (1972), a serious comedy about a deadening marriage, and The Kingfisher (1977), about an old man's attempt to marry the woman who rejected him fifty years before. He published one autobiography, Half Term Report, in 1954 and another, Mr Home Pronounced Hume, in 1979.

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