John Osborne Quotes

John James Osborne, 1929 – 1994

Born: 12 December 1929, Fulham, London, England, UK
Died: 24 December 1994, Clun, Shropshire, England, UK

Osborne’s father was a commercial artist and advertising copy writer who he adored, his mother a Cockney barmaid who he hated. His father died in 1941, leaving him an insurance payment sufficient for his education. He entered Belmont College but he was caught listening to a forbidden Frank Sinatra broadcast and was struck by the headmaster. He whacked the headmaster in return and was expelled. After a brief period in journalism he hired on with a traveling theatre company to tutor the junior actors, then got involved as stage manager and actor himself. He wrote a couple of minor plays but in 1956 he wrote the largely-autobiographical Look Back in Anger, a commentary on the generation that had met with some equality in the war but were stuck at the bottom as England’s class system was restored, with overtones of the frustration of a Great Britain without an empire. Reviews were mixed, but those who liked it raved and it was a spectacular success. Laurence Olivier saw it as unpatriotic and bad theatre, but saw it again with Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe. The Americans’ reaction to the play led him to meat with Osborne and ask the a play be written for him, the result being The Entertainer. He was dubbed “an angry young man”, and the start of a cohort that led a revolution on the British stage. He had a serious liver disease in 1987 which led to diabetes requiring daily injections, he died at home from complications of that disease.

John Osborne quotes:

A real pro is a real man, all he needs is an old backcloth behind him and he can hold them on his own for half an hour. He’s like the general run of people, only he’s a lot more like them than they are themselves, if you understand me.
    John Osborne – The Entertainer (1957)

A refined sort of butcher, a woman is.
    John Osborne – Look Back in Anger (1956)

And even in the hatred of the majority, there’s a kind of triumph because I know that, although they’d never admit it, they secretly respect me.
    John Osborne

Censorship is the commonest social blasphemy because it is mostly concealed, built into us by indolence, self-interest, and cowardice.
    John Osborne

Critics are a dissembling, dishonest, contemptible race of men. Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.
    John Osborne

Don’t clap too hard – it’s a very old building.
    John Osborne – The Entertainer (1957)

Go on – but don’t think you can kill my confidence. I’ve had experts doing it for years.
    John Osborne

Heaven be thanked, we live in such an age when no man dies for love except upon the stage.
    John Osborne

Here we are, we’re alone in the universe, there’s no God, it just seems that it all began by something as simple as sunlight striking on a piece of rock. And here we are. We’ve only got ourselves. Somehow, we’ve just got to make a go of it. We’ve only ourselves.
    John Osborne

Heroes, whatever high ideas we may have of them, are mortal and not divine. We are all as God made us and many of us much worse.
    John Osborne

I never deliberately set out to shock, but when people don’t walk out of my plays I think there is something wrong.
    John Osborne

I wish you’d stop yelling, I can’t hear myself shout.
    John Osborne

In London, love and scandal are considered the best sweeteners of tea.
    John Osborne

It is easy to answer the ultimate questions — it saves you bothering with the immediate ones.
    John Osborne

It is not true that drink changes a man’s character. It may reveal it more clearly.
    John Osborne

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