Joe Orton Online

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Joe Orton by John Haynes.

Last April I wrote that pioneering gay playwright Joe Orton was poorly represented on the web, unaware at the time that an official Orton site was being planned. Now web designer Alison Forsythe has written to say that the site was launched yesterday on what would have been Orton’s 75th birthday.

Joe Orton Online is exactly the resource I’d been looking for, with detailed information about the writer and a wealth of biographical material, reminiscences from collaborators and enthusiasts and a collection of ephemera. It’s especially good to be able to see the library books which Orton and his partner Kenneth Halliwell defaced (I’d say improved) for their own amusement, and which led to them receiving short prison sentences for vandalism.

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Two of the defaced library books.

Also present are a number of manuscript extracts, including samples of his very early works, and some of the “Edna Welthorpe” letters, another Joe and Ken wheeze which adopted the persona of a priggish middle-aged woman to poke fun at the Welthorpes of the world by agreeing with their petty outrages.

For those impatient with the written word, there’s a fair amount of Orton-related material on YouTube, including what appears to be all of Prick Up Your Ears. (Buy the DVD you cheapskates!) Most fascinating and valuable for Ortonites is a section of a documentary about Kenneth Williams which discusses the actor’s association with Orton and features a rare TV appearance by the man himself.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The lost boys: Brian Epstein, Joe Orton and Joe Meek
Joe Orton