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Tom Stoppard Edit Profile

also known as Tomas Straussler

playwright

Tom Stoppard, original name Tomas Straussler, in full Sir Tom Stoppard is a Czech-born British playwright whose work is marked by verbal brilliance, ingenious action, and structural dexterity.

Background

Tom Stoppard was born on July 3, 1937 in (as Thomas Straussler), Zlin, Czechoslovakia. Son of the late Doctor Eugene and Martha Straussler.

Education

Stoppard attended the Dolphin School in Nottinghamshire, and later completed his education at Pocklington School in East Riding, Yorkshire, which he hated. Stoppard left school at seventeen and began work as a journalist for the Western Daily Press in Bristol, never receiving a university education, having taken against the idea. Years later he came to regret not going to university, but at the time he loved his work as a journalist and felt passionately about his career.

Career

Stoppard’s father was working in Singapore in 1938/39. After the Japanese invasion, his father stayed on and was killed, but Stoppard’s mother and her two sons escaped to India, where in 1946 she married a British officer, Kenneth Stoppard. Soon afterward the family went to live in England. Tom Stoppard—he had assumed his stepfather’s surname—quit school and started his career as a journalist in Bristol in 1954. He began to write plays in 1960 after moving to London. His first play, A Walk on the Water (1960), was televised in 1963; the stage version, with some additions and the new title Enter a Free Man, reached London in 1968.

His play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1964–65) was performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1966. That same year his only novel, Lord Malquist & Mr. Moon, was published. His play was the greater success: it entered the repertory of Britain’s National Theatre in 1967 and rapidly became internationally renowned. The irony and brilliance of this work derive from Stoppard’s placing two minor characters of Shakespeare’s Hamlet into the centre of the dramatic action.

A number of successes followed. Among the most-notable stage plays were The Real Inspector Hound (1968), Jumpers (1972), Travesties (1974), Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1978), Night and Day (1978), Undiscovered Country (1980, adapted from a play by Arthur Schnitzler), and On the Razzle (1981, adapted from a play by Johann Nestroy). The Real Thing (1982), Stoppard’s first romantic comedy, deals with art and reality and features a playwright as a protagonist. Arcadia, which juxtaposes 19th-century Romanticism and 20th-century chaos theory and is set in a Derbyshire country house, premiered in 1993, and The Invention of Love, about A.E. Housman, was first staged in 1997. The trilogy The Coast of Utopia (Voyage, Shipwreck, and Salvage), first performed in 2002, explores the lives and debates of a circle of 19th-century Russian émigré intellectuals. Rock ’n’ Roll (2006) jumps between England and Czechoslovakia during the period 1968–90.

Stoppard wrote a number of radio plays, including In the Native State (1991), which was reworked as the stage play Indian Ink (1995). He also wrote a number of notable television plays, such as Professional Foul (1977). Among his early screenplays are those for The Romantic Englishwoman (1975), Despair (1978), and Brazil (1985), as well as for a film version (1990) of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead that he also directed. In 1999 the screenplay for Shakespeare in Love (1998), cowritten by Stoppard and Marc Norman, won an Academy Award. Stoppard also adapted the French screenplay for the English-language film Vatel (2000), about a 17th-century chef, and wrote the screenplay for Enigma (2001), which chronicles the English effort to break the German Enigma code. He later penned scripts for a lavish miniseries (2012) based on novelist Ford Madox Ford’s tetralogy Parade’s End and for a film adaptation (2012) of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

Works

Membership

Active Amnesty International, Committee Against Psychiatric Abuse, Index on Censorship. Fellow: Royal Society Literature.

Connections

Stoppard has been married three times. His first marriage was to Josie Ingle (1965–1972), a nurse; his second marriage was to Miriam Stern (1972–92), whom he left to begin a relationship with actress Felicity Kendal. He has two sons from each of his first two marriages: Oliver Stoppard, Barnaby Stoppard, the actor Ed Stoppard and Will Stoppard, who is married to violinist Linzi Stoppard. In 2014 he married Sabrina Guinness, daughter of James Edward Alexander Rundell Guinness and his wife Pauline Mander.

Stoppard's mother died in 1996. The family had not talked about their history and neither brother knew what had happened to the family left behind in Czechoslovakia. In the early 1990s, with the fall of communism, Stoppard found out that all four of his grandparents had been Jewish and had died in Terezin, Auschwitz and other camps, along with three of his mother's sisters. In 1998, following the deaths of his parents he returned to Zlín for the first time in over 50 years. He has expressed grief both for a lost father and a missing past, but he has no sense of being a survivor, at whatever remove. "I feel incredibly lucky not to have had to survive or die. It's a conspicuous part of what might be termed a charmed life."

In the 1970s Stoppard and his wife Miriam bought Iver Grove in Buckinghamshire and lived there for around 20 years.

spouse:
Josie Ingle

spouse:
Miriam Stoppard

spouse:
Sabrina Guinness

son:
Ed Stoppard