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Harold Pinter is a renowned British playwright who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005.
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In 1978, Pinter brought to the stage another of his best-regarded works, the drama Betrayal. This tale of infidelity and martial meltdown seemed to reflect the writer's life in some ways. He had been involved with Lady Antonia Frasier who was married to a member of Parliament and a mother of six. The pair were eventually able to shed their respective spouses and married in 1980. Pinter and Frasier, a talented writer in her own right,
became a very popular couple in literary circles.
Pinter's politics became more explicit in his late works. The short play Mountain Language (1988), for instance, was written to highlight the mistreatment of the Kurdish people in Turkey. He and fellow playwright Arthur Miller had visited Turkey together a few years earlier.
After being diagnosed with cancer in 2001, Pinter continued his writing and activism. He decried Britain's involvement in the Iraq War, and he called both U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair "terrorists," according to the Financial Times. Pinter expressed some of his outrage in his poetry, particularly his 2003 collection, WAR. In a poem entitled "God Bless America," he wrote: "Here they go again/ The Yanks in their armoured parade/ Chanting their ballads of joy/ As they gallop across the big world/ Praising America's God/ The gutters are clogged with the dead." These political reflections helped Pinter earn the Wilfred Owen Award for poetry.
In 2005, Pinter was honored with the Nobel Prize for Literature. The selection committee cited Pinter a writer "who, in his plays, uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms." Some saw the choice of Pinter, an antiwar campaigner, as a political statement. He wasn't well enough to accept the prize in person, and he gave his Nobel lecture in a pre-recorded video played at the event.
Pinter succumbed to cancer on December 24, 2008. He was survived by his second wife, writer Antonia Fraser, his son from his first marriage, Daniel, and his six stepchildren.
Pinter's work has inspired and informed generations of playwrights, especially Tom Stoppard and David Mamet. Pinter's plays are still performed around the world, with new audiences experiencing the distinct, strange and foreboding atmosphere so often created by the late writer. Of Pinter, fellow playwright David Hare once said, "The essence of Pinter's singular appeal is that you sit down to every play he writes in certain expectation of the unexpected," according to the Los Angeles Times.
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