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Shelagh Delaney—the working-class playwright who stormed the West End

The author was by turns poetic and provocative

By J A Hopkin   November 2019
Shelagh Delaney © Publisher handout

Shelagh Delaney © Publisher handout

In 1958, a 19-year-old bus driver’s daughter saw a play at Manchester’s Opera House. Finding the middle-class characters didn’t speak to her, Shelagh Delaney knocked out a script about poverty, prostitution and mixed-race relationships among the slums of Ordsall. A Taste of Honey proved a huge (and controversial) success, reaching the West End then Broadway. For the film version, Delaney became the first woman to win a BAFTA best screenplay award.

Selina Todd neatly sketches how Delaney’s female characters strive to…

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