Playwright Arden dead at 81

He died on Wednesday (28Mar12) in Galway, Ireland.

The playwright first broke into the theatre mainstream in 1956 with his radio play The Life of Man but he later gained widespread recognition for war story Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance, which premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre.

He then wrote the somewhat-controversial Live Like Pigs and teamed up with his wife Margaretta D’Arcy to pen The Business of Good Government, The Happy Haven, and The Non-Stop Connolly Show.

Arden ultimately became a strong political activist and his first novel, Silence Among Weapons, was shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize in 1982.

The famed playwright, who relocated to Ireland more than 40 years ago, is to be cremated in Harold’s Cross, Dublin on Monday (09Apr12).

A number of notable authors have since spoken out to express their condolences and Irish President Michael D. Higgins has also paid his respects with a statement, which reads, “I have heard with great sadness of the death of the playwright John Arden. He was one of the giants of modern literature and his contribution to theatre in the UK and Ireland was monumental.

“His writing drew from, and continued, a great dissident and critical tradition. In recent decades those of us in the west of Ireland were privileged to have him among us as an inspiration and a valued friend.”