The Info List - Robert Bolt

Robert Oxton Bolt, CBE (15 August 1924 – 21 February 1995) was an English playwright and a two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter, known for writing the screenplays for Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and A Man for All Seasons, the latter two of which won him the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.


1 Career 2 Personal life 3 Death 4 Honours 5 Partial list of plays 6 Screenplays 7 Awards

7.1 Tony Awards 7.2 Screenplay awards

8 Filmography 9 Bibliography 10 References 11 External links

Career[edit] He was born in Sale, Cheshire. At Manchester Grammar School
Manchester Grammar School
his affinity for Sir Thomas More
Thomas More
first developed. He attended the University of Manchester, and, after wartime service in the RAF (1943–1946), the University of Exeter. For many years he taught English and history at Millfield School
Millfield School
and only became a full-time writer at the age of 33 when his play The Flowering Cherry was staged in London in 1958, with Celia Johnson
Celia Johnson
and Ralph Richardson. Although he was best known for his original play A Man for All Seasons – a depiction of Sir Thomas More's clash with King Henry VIII over his divorce from Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon
– which won awards on the stage and in its film version, most of his writing was screenplays for films or television. Bolt was known for dramatic works that placed their protagonists in tension with the prevailing society. He won great renown for A Man for All Seasons, his first iteration of this theme, but he developed it in his existential script for Lawrence of Arabia (1962). In Lawrence, he succeeded where several before him had failed, at turning T. E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Seven Pillars of Wisdom
into a cogent screenplay by turning the entire book on its head and making it a search for the identity of its author, presenting Lawrence as a misfit both in English and Arab society. It was at this time that Bolt himself fell foul of the law, and as part of the Committee of 100 was arrested and imprisoned for protesting against nuclear proliferation. He refused to be "bound over" (i.e., to sign a declaration that he would not engage in such activities again) and was sentenced to one month in prison because of this.[1] The producer of the Lawrence film, Sam Spiegel, persuaded Bolt to sign after he had served only two weeks. Bolt later regretted his actions, and did not speak to Spiegel again after the film was completed. Later, with Doctor Zhivago, he invested Boris Pasternak's novel with the characteristic Bolt sense of narrative and dialogue – human, short and telling. The Bounty was Bolt's first project after a stroke, which affected not only his movement, but his speech. In it, Fletcher Christian takes the "Lawrence" role of a man in tension with his society who in the process loses touch with his own identity. The Mission was Bolt's final film project, and once again represented his thematic preoccupations, this time with 18th-century Jesuits in South America. Bolt's final produced script was Political Animal, later made into the TV movie Without Warning: The James Brady
James Brady
Story (1991), about the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
and the struggles of his press secretary, James Brady, to recover from a near-fatal gunshot injury he received in the process. Bolt was initially reluctant to make the film, but after meeting Brady he felt he could relate to Brady's struggles with a cerebral injury; thus, a lot of his own experiences recovering from his stroke found their way into the script. Personal life[edit] Bolt was married four times, twice to British actress Sarah Miles. His first wife was Celia Ann "Jo" Roberts, by whom he had three children; they divorced in 1963. He was married to Miles from 1967 until 1976; Bolt had his fourth child, Thomas, with Miles. In the early 1980s, he had a short-lived third marriage, to the actress Ann Queensberry (former wife of David Douglas, 12th Marquess of Queensberry), before remarrying Sarah Miles
Sarah Miles
in 1988, with whom he remained until his death in 1995.[2] He had four children: Sally (died 1982), Ben, Joanna, and Tom.[citation needed] Death[edit] Bolt suffered a heart attack and a stroke that left him paralysed in 1979. He died aged 70, in Petersfield, Hampshire, England, following a long illness. Honours[edit] Robert Bolt was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1972. Partial list of plays[edit] Bolt wrote several plays for BBC Radio
BBC Radio
in the '50s, as well as several unproduced plays, so this list is incomplete. Many of his early radio plays were for children, and only a few (see below) were adapted for the stage.

The Last of the Wine (1955) – A play showcasing the reactions of ordinary Englishmen to the advent of nuclear armageddon, one of Bolt's pet political issues. One of Bolt's radio plays which Bolt tried to adapt to the stage. However, the play was either never performed or performed a few times and then cancelled. Wine has never been published or performed since. First broadcast late March, or early April 1955 on the BBC Third Programme.[3] Mr Sampson's Sunday (1955) – First broadcast by the BBC Home Service and reviewed by J. C. Trewin in the Listener 21 July 1955. The Critic and the Heart (1957) – Bolt's first professionally produced work, it involves Winifred Blazer, a middle-aged spinster whose life is ruined by the arrival of a mean-spirited art critic. It was a very modest success, with a two-week run at the Oxford Playhouse. Bolt was never satisfied with this play, and later re-wrote it, retitled Brother and Sister, in a version produced in 1967 with Flora Robson. The Drunken Sailor (1958) – Broadcast on the BBC in March 1958 and reviewed in the Listener by Roy Walker 20 March 1958. Flowering Cherry (1958) – concerns a middle aged man, an insurance salesman dissatisfied with his life who retreats into his fantasies of owning a cherry orchard. His erratic behaviour alienates family and friends and threatens his financial ruin. Ran on the West End starring Ralph Richardson
Ralph Richardson
and Celia Johnson
Celia Johnson
(succeeded by Wendy Hiller) to success but mixed reviews. Many critics felt it too closely resembled Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, and had a brief but unsuccessful run on Broadway starring Hiller and Eric Portman. The Tiger and the Horse (1960) – is the first of Bolt's plays to develop his themes of individualism, society, authority, and politics. It concerns an ageing college professor, John Dean, who is running for Vice-Chancellor of a prestigious university, but finds his election undermined by his daughter's love affair, a political petition, and his wife's deteriorating mental state. The play starred Michael and Vanessa Redgrave, among others, and was directed by Frith Banbury. A Man for All Seasons
A Man for All Seasons
(1960) – involves Sir Thomas More's conflict with Henry VIII over the latter's break with the Catholic Church. Adapted from a radio play Bolt had written in 1954, it is generally regarded as Bolt's finest work – and certainly his most successful. The BBC production was reviewed in the Listener on 5 August 1954. The play develops in full his themes of individuality versus society and authority as corrupt. The strain of Brechtianism which would pervade many of his later works is first present here, in the character of the 'Common Man', who both narrates and takes part in the action as various minor characters. The original run starred Paul Scofield
Paul Scofield
as Thomas More, as well as Keith Baxter as Henry VIII, George Rose as the Common Man, Leo McKern
Leo McKern
as the Common Man in the West End production and Thomas Cromwell
Thomas Cromwell
in the Broadway show (a role originated in London by Andrew Keir and later taken over by Thomas Gomez), and Albert Dekker as the Duke of Norfolk. It was a huge critical and commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic, has had several revivals, and was made into an equally acclaimed film in 1966. Gentle Jack (1963) – an unusual work by Bolt, a comedy contrasting humanity's material world with nature. A banker, Jacko, is sent to the countryside on vacation, and becomes influenced by a Nature
spirit who convinces him to abandon his office life and live in a state of nature, indulging in base pleasures such as murder, sex, and general mischief. Jacko, however, is torn between his desire to inhabit both the "Natural" and "Logical" Worlds. It was one of Bolt's few unsuccessful plays; Bolt, who considered the play his best work for the stage, regretted this, feeling that perhaps he had not articulated his points well enough. The play starred Kenneth Williams, Michael Bryant, Siân Phillips, Edith Evans, Timothy West
Timothy West
and Bernard Kay in its run; the play has not been professionally produced since. The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew (1964) – a children's play, involving a heroic knight, Oblong Fitz-Oblong, sent to slay a vicious dragon on a far-away island, leading him to face off with the crooked Baron Bolligrew, who controls the island, and an evil wizard he recruits to help him. The work contains many of Bolt's favourite themes of integrity and honour – as well as Brechtian devices which fit naturally within the story's fantasy setting. The show was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company
Royal Shakespeare Company
for a showing at Christmastime, 1964. Among the original cast were John Normington as Fitz-Oblong, Michael Jayston as the play's narrator, Bolt perennial Leo McKern
Leo McKern
as the title character, and Terence Rigby and a young Malcolm McDowell
Malcolm McDowell
in supporting roles. A revival in the late 1960s featured Roy Kinnear
Roy Kinnear
as Fitz-Oblong. Paul Scofield
Paul Scofield
provided a voice recording for the dragon. Like A Man for All Seasons, the play had been written for the BBC, and in 1995 was re-written into a children's book. The play was extremely popular, and throughout the 1960s/70s, it had a yearly revival at Christmas in Britain. In the early 60s, the Augsburger Puppenkiste
Augsburger Puppenkiste
puppet theatre produced the play for German television in six sequels titled Der kleine dicke Ritter. Vivat! Vivat Regina! (1971) – Bolt's most successful show after A Man for All Seasons, a historical account of the reigns of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I
of England, comparing and contrasting the personalities and reigns of the two female rulers. Highly successful, it ran for several months on Broadway, earning several Tony nominations. The original cast included Eileen Atkins as Elizabeth and Bolt's wife Sarah Miles
Sarah Miles
as Mary. The play has experienced several revivals, most notably a 1985 Off-Broadway production starring Geraldine Page
Geraldine Page
as Elizabeth. State of Revolution (1977) – An in-depth political depiction of the Russian Revolution of 1917, focusing on Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
as "a great man possessed by a terrible idea", and the struggles of Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
and Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
to gain power under him. It is told from the point of view of Lunacharsky, Lenin's Minister of Education. The original cast included Michael Bryant as Lenin, Terence Rigby as Stalin, Brian Blessed as Maxim Gorky, and Michael Kitchen as Trotsky. Though meticulously researched, the play received mixed reviews and had a short run before being shelved. Bolt himself felt that he hadn't gotten the play quite right.

State of Revolution was Bolt's final produced play, though he wrote several others that were never published or produced. He spent much of the mid-to-late 1970s working on a play about portrait artist Augustus John (famous for a series of portraits of T. E. Lawrence), but his work on The Bounty, and later his failing health, forced him to abandon it. Screenplays[edit] Bolt may be best remembered for his work on film and television screenplays. His work for director David Lean
David Lean
garnered him particular acclaim and recognition, and Bolt tried his hand at directing with the unsuccessful Lady Caroline Lamb (1972). While some criticised Bolt for focusing more on the personal aspects of his protagonists than the broader political context (particularly with "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Man for All Seasons"), most critics and audiences alike praised his screenplays. Bolt won two Oscars, two BAFTA
Awards, and won or was nominated for several others.

Lawrence of Arabia (with Michael Wilson) (1962) – despite disputes between Wilson and Bolt over who contributed what to the script, Bolt provided most of the film's dialogue and the interpretation of the characters while Wilson provided the story and outline. Wilson was uncredited, and Bolt alone was nominated for, but did not win, an Academy Award. Bolt and Lean refused to recognise Wilson's contribution to the film, and Wilson was not credited until 1995. Doctor Zhivago (1965) – Bolt won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay A Man for All Seasons
A Man for All Seasons
(1966) – Bolt won the Oscar again, adapting his own play to the screen. Krasnaya Palatka, released in the US as "The Red Tent", (1969) (uncredited additional dialogue) Ryan's Daughter
Ryan's Daughter
(1970) Lady Caroline Lamb (1972) (also directed) The Bounty (1984) The Mission (1986) (originally published as a novel) A Man for All Seasons
A Man for All Seasons
(1988) A Dry White Season
A Dry White Season
(1989) (uncredited revisions of screenplay) Without Warning: The James Brady
James Brady
Story (1991) (TV)

Bolt also worked on the early drafts of the script for Gandhi, but his script was considered unsatisfactory and he was replaced by John Briley. Bolt also had several unrealised projects, including a TV miniseries of Gore Vidal's novel Burr and an adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time
A Wrinkle in Time
for Norman Lear.[4] After being paid $US400,000 plus ten per cent of profits for his Ryan's Daughter
Ryan's Daughter
screenplay, Bolt became, for a time, the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood. Awards[edit] Tony Awards[edit] Main article: Tony Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result[5]

1962 A Man for All Seasons Best Play Won

1972 Vivat! Vivat Regina! Nominated

Screenplay awards[edit]

Year Nominated work Academy Awards[6] Best Adapted Screenplay BAFTA
Awards[7] Best British Screenplay (A) Best Original Screenplay (B) Golden Globe Awards[8] Best Screenplay

1962 Lawrence of Arabia Nominated Won A (1963) N/A

1965 Doctor Zhivago Won N/A Won

1966 A Man for All Seasons Won Won A (1968) Won

1986 The Mission N/A Nominated B (1987) Won


Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - Officer with Pipe Gazing at Lawrence (uncredited)


Prüfer, Sabine. The Individual at the Crossroads: The Works of Robert Bolt, Novelist, Dramatist, Screenwriter. Frankfurt am Main; New York: Peter Lang, 1998 Turner, Adrian. Robert Bolt: Scenes from Two Lives. London: Hutchinson, 1998. ISBN 0-09-180176-1.


^ Calder, John (23 February 1995). "Obituary: Robert Bolt". The Independent. Retrieved 21 July 2016.  ^ Turner, Adrian (1998). Robert Bolt: Scenes From Two Lives. Hutchinson. ISBN 0-09-180176-1.  ^ Trewin, J. C. "Critic on the Hearth." Listener [London, England] 5 August 1954: 224. ^ Marcus, Leonard S. "Listening for Madeleine (Excerpt)". TOR.com. TOR. Retrieved 8 November 2016.  ^ "Search Results: Robert Bolt". www.tonyawards.com. Retrieved 21 July 2016.  ^ "Robert Bolt". awardsdatabase.oscars.org. Retrieved 21 July 2016.  ^ " BAFTA Awards
BAFTA Awards
Search: Robert Bolt". awards.bafta.org. Retrieved 21 July 2016.  ^ "Robert Bolt". www.goldenglobes.com. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 

External links[edit]

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Robert Bolt

Obituary in The Independent Correction to obituary in The Independent Robert Bolt on IMDb Robert Bolt biography and filmography at the British Film Institute's Screenonline The Making of Lawrence of Arabia, Digitised BAFTA
Journal, Winter 1962–63, including article by Robert Bolt

Trade union offices

Preceded by George Elvin President of the Association of Cinematograph, Television and Allied Technicians 1974–c.1980 Succeeded by Ron Bowie

v t e

Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay


Benjamin Glazer (1928) Hanns Kräly (1929) Frances Marion
Frances Marion
(1930) Howard Estabrook
Howard Estabrook
(1931) Edwin J. Burke (1932) Victor Heerman
Victor Heerman
and Sarah Y. Mason
Sarah Y. Mason
(1933) Robert Riskin
Robert Riskin
(1934) Dudley Nichols (1935) Pierre Collings
Pierre Collings
and Sheridan Gibney (1936) Heinz Herald, Geza Herczeg, and Norman Reilly Raine
Norman Reilly Raine
(1937) Ian Dalrymple, Cecil Arthur Lewis, W. P. Lipscomb, and George Bernard Shaw (1938) Sidney Howard
Sidney Howard
(1939) Donald Ogden Stewart
Donald Ogden Stewart
(1940) Sidney Buchman and Seton I. Miller (1941) George Froeschel, James Hilton, Claudine West, and Arthur Wimperis (1942) Philip G. Epstein, Julius J. Epstein, and Howard E. Koch (1943) Frank Butler, and Frank Cavett (1944) Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder
(1945) Robert Sherwood (1946) George Seaton
George Seaton
(1947) John Huston
John Huston
(1948) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
(1949) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Joseph L. Mankiewicz


Harry Brown and Michael Wilson (1951) Charles Schnee (1952) Daniel Taradash (1953) George Seaton
George Seaton
(1954) Paddy Chayefsky
Paddy Chayefsky
(1955) John Farrow, S. J. Perelman, and James Poe (1956) Carl Foreman
Carl Foreman
and Michael Wilson (1957) Alan Jay Lerner
Alan Jay Lerner
(1958) Neil Paterson (1959) Richard Brooks
Richard Brooks
(1960) Abby Mann (1961) Horton Foote (1962) John Osborne
John Osborne
(1963) Edward Anhalt (1964) Robert Bolt (1965) Robert Bolt (1966) Stirling Silliphant (1967) James Goldman (1968) Waldo Salt (1969) Ring Lardner Jr.
Ring Lardner Jr.
(1970) Ernest Tidyman (1971) Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
and Mario Puzo
Mario Puzo
(1972) William Peter Blatty
William Peter Blatty
(1973) Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
and Mario Puzo
Mario Puzo
(1974) Bo Goldman
Bo Goldman
and Lawrence Hauben (1975)


William Goldman
William Goldman
(1976) Alvin Sargent (1977) Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
(1978) Robert Benton (1979) Alvin Sargent (1980) Ernest Thompson
Ernest Thompson
(1981) Costa-Gavras
and Donald E. Stewart (1982) James L. Brooks
James L. Brooks
(1983) Peter Shaffer (1984) Kurt Luedtke (1985) Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
(1986) Bernardo Bertolucci
Bernardo Bertolucci
and Mark Peploe (1987) Christopher Hampton
Christopher Hampton
(1988) Alfred Uhry
Alfred Uhry
(1989) Michael Blake (1990) Ted Tally (1991) Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
(1992) Steven Zaillian (1993) Eric Roth (1994) Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson
(1995) Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton
(1996) Curtis Hanson
Curtis Hanson
and Brian Helgeland (1997) Bill Condon (1998) John Irving
John Irving
(1999) Stephen Gaghan
Stephen Gaghan


Akiva Goldsman
Akiva Goldsman
(2001) Ronald Harwood (2002) Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Fran Walsh (2003) Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne
and Jim Taylor (2004) Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry
and Diana Ossana (2005) William Monahan
William Monahan
(2006) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (2007) Simon Beaufoy (2008) Geoffrey S. Fletcher
Geoffrey S. Fletcher
(2009) Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin
(2010) Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, and Nat Faxon
Nat Faxon
(2011) Chris Terrio (2012) John Ridley
John Ridley
(2013) Graham Moore (2014) Adam McKay
Adam McKay
and Charles Randolph (2015) Barry Jenkins
Barry Jenkins
and Tarell Alvin McCraney
Tarell Alvin McCraney
(2016) James Ivory
James Ivory

v t e

Award for Best British Screenplay

George Tabori
George Tabori
and Robin Estridge (1954) William Rose (1955) Nigel Balchin
Nigel Balchin
(1956) Pierre Boulle
Pierre Boulle
(1957) Paul Dehn (1958) Frank Harvey, John Boulting and Alan Hackney (1959) Bryan Forbes
Bryan Forbes
(1960) Wolf Mankowitz and Val Guest
Val Guest
/ Shelagh Delaney
Shelagh Delaney
and Tony Richardson (1961) Robert Bolt (1962) John Osborne
John Osborne
(1963) Harold Pinter
Harold Pinter
(1964) Frederic Raphael (1965) David Mercer (1966) Robert Bolt (1967)

v t e

Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay

Robert Bolt (1965) Robert Bolt (1966) Stirling Silliphant (1967) Stirling Silliphant (1968) Bridget Boland, John Hale and Richard Sokolove (1969) Erich Segal
Erich Segal
(1970) Paddy Chayefsky
Paddy Chayefsky
(1971) Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
and Mario Puzo
Mario Puzo
(1972) William Peter Blatty
William Peter Blatty
(1973) Robert Towne
Robert Towne
(1974) Bo Goldman
Bo Goldman
and Lawrence Hauben (1975) Paddy Chayefsky
Paddy Chayefsky
(1976) Neil Simon
Neil Simon
(1977) Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
(1978) Robert Benton (1979) William Peter Blatty
William Peter Blatty
(1980) Ernest Thompson
Ernest Thompson
(1981) John Briley (1982) James L. Brooks
James L. Brooks
(1983) Peter Shaffer (1984) Woody Allen
Woody Allen
(1985) Robert Bolt (1986) Bernardo Bertolucci, Mark Peploe and Enzon Ungari (1987) Naomi Foner (1988) Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
and Ron Kovic
Ron Kovic
(1989) Michael Blake (1990) Callie Khouri
Callie Khouri
(1991) Bo Goldman
Bo Goldman
(1992) Steven Zaillian (1993) Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino
(1994) Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson
(1995) Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (1996) Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck
and Matt Damon
Matt Damon
(1997) Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard
Tom Stoppard
(1998) Alan Ball (1999) Stephen Gaghan
Stephen Gaghan
(2000) Akiva Goldsman
Akiva Goldsman
(2001) Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne
and Jim Taylor (2002) Sofia Coppola
Sofia Coppola
(2003) Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne
and Jim Taylor (2004) Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry
and Diana Ossana (2005) Peter Morgan (2006) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (2007) Simon Beaufoy (2008) Jason Reitman
Jason Reitman
and Sheldon Turner (2009) Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin
(2010) Woody Allen
Woody Allen
(2011) Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino
(2012) Spike Jonze
Spike Jonze
(2013) Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., and Armando Bo (2014) Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin
(2015) Damien Chazelle
Damien Chazelle
(2016) Martin McDonagh
Martin McDonagh

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 109042465 LCCN: n50042041 ISNI: 0000 0001 1479 8373 GND: 118659294 SUDOC: 086915495 BNF: cb135690287 (data) NDL: 00433772 BNE: XX1058572 SN