Goodwin, John 1921- (John Lonnen Goodwin)

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Goodwin, John 1921- (John Lonnen Goodwin)


Born May 4, 1921, in London, England; son of Albert Edwin (a senior civil servant) and Jessie Helen (an actress and dancer) Goodwin; married Suzanne Cecile Ebel (a writer), 1971; children: Marigold Belsey (stepdaughter), James Belsey (stepson; deceased, May, 2005), Timothy. Ethnicity: "European (white)." Education: Attended Christ's Hospital, Horsham, Sussex, England. Politics: Socialist. Religion: Church of England.


Home—London, England. Agent—Patricia Macnaughton, Macnaughton Lord 2000 Ltd., 19 Margravine Gardens, London W6 8RL, England.


Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, publicity chief, 1948-57; Bodley Head Ltd. (publisher), London, England, publicity chief, 1957-59; Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon and London, head of publicity and publications, 1960-74; Royal National Theatre, London, head of publicity and publications, 1974-88. Head of publicity and publications for Sir Peter Daubeny's World Theatre Seasons at the Aldwych Theatre, 1964-74. Exhibitions-: Designer and director of a Shakespeare exhibition at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and an exhibition of Richard Bird's graphics at the National Theatre. Military service: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, active duty, 1940-45; became lieutenant.


(Editor) The Complete Guide to Britain's National Theatre, Heinemann (London, England), 1977.

A Short Guide to Shakespeare's Plays, Heinemann (London, England), 1979.

(Editor) Peter Hall's Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1983, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1984.

(Editor) Jocelyn Rickard, The Painted Bouquet, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1987.

(Editor, with Lyn Haill) Tim Goodwin, compiler, Britain's Royal National Theatre: The First 25 Years, Nick Hern Books (London, England), 1988.

(Editor) British Theatre Design: The Modern Age, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.

(With Trader Faulkner) Losing My Marbles: How An Actor Learnt the Hard Way; A One-Man Show (produced in London, England, at Jermyn Street Theatre, 1999), Oberon (London, England), 2003.

A Most Sweet Poison (play; based on the novel Sappho by Alphonse Daudet), Oberon (London, England), 2007.

Contributor of articles and short stories to magazines and newspapers.


John Goodwin spent fifteen years as the head of publicity and publications for the Royal Shakespeare Company before moving on to the National Theatre in 1974 for another fifteen years. There he worked closely with the director, Sir Peter Hall, who had earlier established the Royal Shakespeare Company. Goodwin edited Hall's audio diaries, recorded during the National Theatre's pivotal early years of 1972 to 1980, and saw them published as Peter Hall's Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle. Hall had taken over the directorship of the National Theatre from Sir Laurence Olivier, and there worked with such outstanding members of the British stage tradition as Sir John Gielgud, Sir Ralph Richardson, Harold Pinter, Trevor Nunn, Peter Brook, and Kenneth Tynan, among others. All of these figures appear in the Diaries, subject to Hall's pitiless wit and peerless ability to capture a moment in a few phrases. "About himself, however, Hall is not nearly so forthcoming," commented Lloyd Rose in the Atlantic. "When you consider that the material has been cut to about one sixth of its original length and that anything even remotely libelous has been removed, you begin to realize just how little of Hall's personality you're getting," Rose added.

Peter Hall's Diaries "created a furor in England" when they were first published, according to New York Times contributor Michiko Kakutani, due to the forthright manner in which Hall criticizes members of the theatrical community both living and dead. New York Times Book Review contributor Benedict Nightingale called Hall's account of the multifaceted tribulations recorded in the diaries a "neo-Jacobean drama": "As his diaries vividly reveal, most of the traditional ingredients were there—ambition, paranoia and hatred, intrigue and betrayal, and a protagonist who, by his own confession, was driven to the brink of madness by the pressures slowly gathering around him." For Kakutani, however, Hall reveals himself in the diaries to be "an egomaniac with a gift for self-dramatization…. Mr. Hall proves a lively, intelligent critic, adept at communicating his passion for the theater; but his critical opinions, like his presentation of administrative skirmishes, often come across as self-serving."

Though so much of the content of Hall's diaries are the complaints and ravings of a talented workaholic who attempted (and succeeded) in building a National Theatre while directing plays and taking roles in films elsewhere, critics found much to delight them in Peter Hall's Diaries too. For example, though Hall's narrative is dominated by the pessimism that dogs him, the book ends on a note of triumph as the beleaguered director realizes he has succeeded at his Sisyphusian task of establishing a national theatre in England. Furthermore, though Hall's portrayal of many famous characters can be painfully acerbic, they can also be unforgettably funny, as, for instance, the image of Sir Ralph Richardson zooming around on his motorcycle in a woman's sweater, or Sir John Gielgud's reaction to the prospect of playing in an avant-garde production of Julius Caesar in which the costumes consist of leather pants. "Such scenes are just extra morsels in what remains, for all the spleen, a deliciously readable book," Kakutani concluded.



Atlantic, May, 1984, Lloyd Rose, review of Peter Hall's Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle, p. 120.

Economist, October 1, 1983, review of Peter Hall's Diaries, p. 85.

High Fidelity, September, 1984, Patrick J. Smith, review of Peter Hall's Diaries, p. 15.

New Statesman, October 28, 1983, Michael Hefferman, review of Peter Hall's Diaries, p. 29.

New Statesman and Society, January 12, 1990, Claire Armitstead, review of British Theatre Design: The Modern Age, p. 37.

New York, April 9, 1984, John Simon, review of Peter Hall's Diaries, p. 75.

New York Times, April 21, 1984, Michiko Kakutani, review of Peter Hall's Diaries, sec. 1, p. 9.

New York Times Book Review, April 29, 1984, Benedict Nightingale, review of Peter Hall's Diaries, p. 11.

Theatre Crafts, April, 1990, David I. Taylor, review of British Theater Design, p. 97.

Variety, June 27, 1984, review of Peter Hall's Diaries, p. 92; January 17, 1990, review of British Theater Design, p. 66.

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Goodwin, John 1921- (John Lonnen Goodwin)

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