Author: Joe Orton

Profile: Joe Orton was an English author, playwright and diarist. He was born in Leicester, England and died in Islington, London, England. Kenneth Halliwell was his partner. He had a short public career from the year 1964 to 1967, but it was highly influential. Ortonesque is the adjective used to refer his work described by dark but farcical cynicism. He studied at Marriot Road Primary School however due to asthma he could not clear the eleven-plus exam and hence from 1945 to 1947 did a secretarial course at Clark’s College in Leicester. Around 1949 he performed in theatre and joined various dramatic societies. Improving his physique and appearance was his determination while working on amateur productions. The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) offered him a scholarship in 1950 after which he went to London, leaving East Midlands. Due to appendicitis his entrance into RADA was postponed.

Kenneth Halliwel and Orton, both did regional repertory work. After returning to London they both started writing.

Writing style: Joe Orton’s scandalous black comedies were simply amazing that they amused, outraged and shocked his audiences, during the brief period of 1964 to 1967.

Published Texts:


2001 – Fred and Madge

2001 – The Visitors

The Ruffian on the Stair (first performance 1964) Radio play

Entertaining Mr.Sloane (first performance 1964)

Loot (first performance 1965)

The Erpingham Camp (first performance 1966)

The Good and Faithful Servant (first performance 1967)

Funeral Games (first performance 1968)

What the Butler Saw (first performance 1969)

Up Against It (screenplay)


1971 – Head to Toe

2001 – Between Us Girls

1999 – Lord Cucumber and The Boy Hairdresser (co-written with Halliwell)


Awards and Acknowledgements:

In Leicester a pedestrian concourse in front of the Curve Theatre has been named again as Orton Square

A campaign was launched by Professor Dr.Emma Parker at the University of Leicester in July 2019 to install a statue of him in the city of his birth, Leicester. Notable actors including Alec Baldwin, Kenneth Cranham, Sheila Hancock and many others supported the campaign.

Prick Up Your Ears is a biography of Orton published by John Lahr in 1978. Based on Lahr’s research and Orton’s diaries, a film adaptation of the same was released in 1987.

Noel Road 25: A Genius Like Us was a play about Halliwell’s and Orton’s last days was written by Carlos which was performed first in 2001.

In the 2006 BBC film Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa!, actor Kenny Doughty played Joe Orton.