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Peter Henry Barnes (1931–2004) by James F. Hunkin, 1991 James F. Hunkin; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Barnes, Peter Henry (1931–2004), playwright and screenwriter, was born on 10 January 1931 at 33 Devons Road, Bromley, London, the son of (James) Frederick Barnes, fairground caterer and café owner, and his wife, Martha, née Miller.

I grew up in a downmarket seaside resort on the east coast where my parents worked in amusement arcades on the pier and later owned two cafés on the seafront, along with the cockles and whelks stalls, the deckchairs, Punch and Judy booths, and artists who would draw, with a pointed stick, elegant pictures in the wet sand....

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Thompson Cooper

revised by John Wells

Barnett, Morris (1800–1856), actor and playwright, was of Jewish descent. He trained as a musician, and the earlier part of his life was spent in Paris. Having resolved to earn his living as an actor, he went as a comedian to Brighton and then to ...

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Baron, (Joseph) Alexander (1917–1999), novelist and screenwriter, was born Joseph Alexander Bernstein on 4 December 1917 at 30 Penyston Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, the son of Barnet Bernstein, later Baron (1894–1977), a Polish-born furrier, and his wife, Fanny, née Levinson (1895–1973). Once settled in ...

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Benjamin Leopold Farjeon (1838–1903) by unknown engraver, pubd 1891 (after London Stereoscopic Co.) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Lewis Melville

revised by William Baker

Farjeon, Benjamin Leopold (1838–1903), novelist and playwright, second son of the five children of Jacob Farjeon (d. 1865), a poor second-hand clothes dealer, and his wife, Dinah Levy of Deal, Kent, was born in London on 12 May 1838. His parents were Orthodox Jews. Brought up in ...

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Feinman, Sigmund [real name Asher-Zelig Feinman] (1862–1909), actor and playwright, was born Asher-Zelig Feinman on 28 April 1862 in Intshest, Ukraine. Since both his grandfathers had prominent roles in the synagogue, it was natural for Feinman to receive a traditional religious education. His father, however, was a manufacturer, and thus receptive to influences from beyond the Jewish sphere, so he sent his son to secular schools as well....

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Martin Alan Feldman (1934–1982) by Terry O'Neill, 1974 [on the set of the film Young Frankenstein] © Terry O'Neill; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Feldman, Martin Alan [Marty] (1934–1982), comedian and scriptwriter, was born on 8 July 1934 at University College Hospital, London, the elder of the two children of Myer Feldman, a gown manufacturer of Islington, and his wife, Cecilia (Cissie), née Crook. He had a sister, ...

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Goldfaden, Avrom (1840–1908), playwright and theatre director, was born in Old Constantine, Ukraine, on 12 July 1840, one of four sons born to Khayim Lipe Goldenfodem, a watchmaker, and his wife, Khane Rivke. Like his brothers, he was apprenticed to his father, but in an effort to take advantage of a new tsarist decree offering the sons of Jewish families an alternative to conscription, he was sent to the rabbinical academy in ...

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Marks, Leopold Samuel [Leo] (1920–2001), cryptographer, playwright, and screenwriter, was born at 71 Antrim Mansions, Hampstead, London, on 24 September 1920, the only child of Benjamin Marks, antiquarian bookseller, and his wife, Rachel Dorothy, née Joseph. He was a bright child—at the age of eight, he claimed, he had solved his father's and his uncle's book-pricing codes—and was noted at ...

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Mendez [Mendes], Moses (1690?–1758), playwright and poet, was probably born in the City of London. He was a grandson of the Sephardi physician Fernando Mendes and the only son of James Mendez, of Mitcham, Surrey, a stockjobber, and Anne, of the Sephardi ...

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Pinter, Harold (1930–2008), actor, playwright, and director, was born on 10 October 1930 at Tudor House, Newington Green, London, the only child of Hyman (Jack) Pinter (1902–1997), ladies' tailor, and his wife, Frances, née Moskowitz (1904–1992). At the time of his birth his parents lived at ...

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Harold Pinter (1930–2008) by Justin Mortimer, 1992 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Rosenthal, Jack Morris (1931–2004), television dramatist, was born on 8 September 1931 at 27 Kendall Road, Crumpsall, Manchester, the younger son of Samuel Rosenthal (d. 1966), a waterproof garment worker of Russian-Jewish origin, and his wife, Leah (Lakey), née Miller, then a machinist, later a dressmaker. His education blazed the episodic trail of much of his subsequent writing for television, starting with the bluntly named ...

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Rubens, Paul Alfred (1875–1917), musical comedy writer and songwriter, was born at 11 Dawson Place, Kensington, London, on 29 April 1875, the eldest son of Victor Rubens, a wealthy Berlin-born Jewish stockbroker, and his wife, Jenny, née Wallach. He was educated at ...

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Sutro, Alfred (1863–1933), playwright and translator, was born at 3 Dean Street, Finsbury Square, London, on 7 August 1863. He was the youngest son of the five children of Helena Cohen (1829/30–1891) and Sigismund Sutro MD (1815–1886), an authority on continental spas who emigrated from ...

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Taylor, Cecil Philip (1929–1981), playwright, was born on 6 November 1929 at 10 Burnbank Terrace, Glasgow, the only son of Max Taylor (b. 20 March 1898), a commercial traveller, and Fay, née Leventhal (b. 1901). Both parents were Jewish and born in ...