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Willy Russell Biography

(1947– ), John Paul George Ringo … and Bert, Breezeblock Park, Stags and Hens, Educating Rita

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: M(acha)L(ouis) Rosenthal Biography to William Sansom [Norman Trevor Sansom] Biography

British dramatist, born in Whiston near Liverpool, the son of a factory worker; he left school at 15 and became a hairdresser. Later, however, he went to St Katharine's College of Education and gained the qualifications to launch on a brief career as a teacher. His first success was a musical play about the Beatles, John Paul George Ringo … and Bert (1974). That was followed by other plays wryly and observantly celebrating the energy and resilience of the often oppressed inhabitants of his native city: Breezeblock Park (1975), about family life on a housing estate; Stags and Hens (1978), set in the ladies' and gentlemen's lavatories of a Liverpool club and involving a couple holding separate parties on the eve of their wedding; Educating Rita (1980), about the relationship between a university teacher and a ladies' hairdresser in search of a degree; another musical play, Blood Brothers (1983), about the inadvertent reunion, the friendship, and the fate of twins separated at birth and brought up in very different social circumstances; and Shirley Valentine (1988), about a Liverpool housewife who escapes her humdrum life and unfulfilling marriage to find liberation in Greece.

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