Joe Orton Biography | Author of What the Butler Saw

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Joe Orton was born John Kingsley Orton on January 1, 1933, into a working class family in Leicester, England. Orton's father earned little as a gardener for the city, and his mother's extravagant taste ensured that the family was almost always in debt. Orton's parents fought continually, and there was little affection within the family; writing in his adolescent journal, Orton always put the word "family " in quotation marks.

As a teenager, Orton found escape from his family situation by acting in local theater productions. In 1951, at the age of eighteen, Orton left Leicester to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. It was there that he met Kenneth Halliwell, an older and more sophisticated student who would become Orton's companion, collaborator, lover, and eventually his murderer. Halliwell encouraged Orton to begin writing, and the two co-authored several novels before Orton started writing on his own...

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This section contains 532 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the What the Butler Saw Study Guide
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Drama for Students
What the Butler Saw from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.