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Peter Nichols (Peter Richard Nichols) Biography

(1927– ), (Peter Richard Nichols), A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, The National Health

British playwright, born and educated in Bristol; he worked as an actor and a teacher before achieving success with his first stage play, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1967), a dark comedy about the pains and pressures of bringing up a severely disabled child. His subsequent work includes The National Health (1969), The Freeway (1974), and Born in the Gardens (1979), which respectively use a hospital ward, a traffic jam on a motorway, and a Bristol household to make general comments on what their author sees as the decline of England; three pieces with autobiographical aspects, Forget-Me-Not-Lane (1971), a nostalgic picture of a West Country childhood notable for its wry portrayal of an eccentric father, Privates on Parade (1977), about an ENSA troupe in Malaya, and A Piece of My Mind (1988), about a somewhat embittered playwright unsuccessfully trying to write an autobiographical novel; Chez Nous (1974) and Passion Play (1981), plays about the strains of marriage, the latter using four performers to embody the different aspects of a fastidious yet sensual husband and a seemingly calm but distraught wife; and a musical about the opium trade and British imperialism, Poppy (1982). Nichols's œuvre, which at its best is marked by stylistic daring, a sense of social responsibility, and a sardonic yet compassionate humour, also includes television plays, notably The Gorge (1968), and the autobiography Feeling You're Behind (1984).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: New from Tartary to Frank O'connor