1st Edition

Partners of the Imagination The Lives, Art and Struggles of John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy

By Robert Leach Copyright 2021
    264 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    264 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Partners of the Imagination is the first in-depth study of the work of John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy, partners in writing and cultural and political campaigns.

    Beginning in the 1950s, Arden and D’Arcy created a series of hugely admired plays performed at Britain’s major theatres. Political activists, they worked tirelessly in the peace movement and the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’, during which D’Arcy was gaoled. She is also a veteran of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace camp. Their later work included Booker-listed novels, prize-winning stories, essays and radio plays, and D’Arcy founded and ran a Woman’s Pirate Radio station. Raymond Williams described Arden as ‘the most genuinely innovative’ of the playwrights of his generation, and Chambers and Prior claimed that ‘The Non-Stop Connolly Show’, D’Arcy and Arden’s six-play epic, ‘has fair claim to being one of the finest pieces of post-war drama in the English language’.

    This study explores the connections between art and life, and between the responsibilities of the writer and the citizen. Importantly, it also evaluates the range of literary works (plays, poetry, novels, essays, polemics) created by these writers, both as literature and drama, and as controversialist activity in its own right.

    This work is a landmark examination of two hugely respected radical writers.

    List of Illustrations




    One: A Yorkshire Boyhood

    Two: Stirrings

    Three: An Irish Girlhood

    Four: The Aspiring Actress

    Five: At the Royal Court Theatre

    Six: Towards Collaboration

    Seven: Festivals of Anarchy

    Eight: A Playwright Without His Breeches

    Nine: Alternatives in Politics and Theatre

    Ten: Cartoons, Archetypes, Slogans, Theatre

    Eleven: Looking and Seeing

    Twelve: An Activist Theatre

    Thirteen: A Mighty Bust-Up

    Fourteen: Ireland Once Again

    Fifteen: Non-Stop

    Sixteen: Pinpricks and Follies

    Seventeen: Unperson – New Person

    Eighteen: ‘If You Are Beaten Down, You Just Rise Again!’

    Nineteen: Artists for Freedom

    Twenty: Pirate Woman

    Twenty-one: Undeviating Paths

    Twenty-two: The Ink Horn Not Yet Dry

    Twenty-three: Loose Theatre

    Twenty-four: ‘This Was Not History. It Has Not Passed’




    Robert Leach is a theatre director as well as an academic. Educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, he has taught at Birmingham and Edinburgh Universities. He has published many books on theatre-related subjects, most recently from Routledge the two-volume Illustrated History of British Theatre and Performance.