Arts

10 things you may not know about Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett

Irish novelist, Samuel Beckett
Kelly McAllister

HAPPY Days International Beckett Festival curator Sean Doran reveals 10 things you may not know about Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett:

1. Samuel Beckett attended Portora Royal school in Enniskillen – the same school that Oscar Wilde attended 50 years before him – where he won a gold medal in boxing and was captain of the cricket team.

2. After graduating from Trinity College Dublin in 1926, his father set him up for a job at the Guinness brewery in Dublin – he didn't turn up for the interview.

3. He admired and liked to read the work of mystery writer Agatha Christie.

4. In 1939 Beckett upped from neutral Dublin to return to France and join the French Resistance for the duration of the Second World War. When his resistance cell was betrayed,he narrowly escaped the Gestapo in Paris with only 30 minutes to spare until the Gestapo arrived at his flat. Many of his close friends were taken to concentration camps. For his role in the resistance he was awarded the Croix de Guerre.

5. Beckett wrote Waiting for Godot – his most famous play – in the space of three months.

6. You can find a number of infantile and potty-humour character names in Beckett's work including the eponymous play Krapp's Last Tape.

7. The characters of Waiting for Godot were inspired by the pratfalls and humour of Beckett's comic heroes Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy.

8. When Beckett's wife heard of his winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969, her reaction was reputed to have said, ‘What a catastrophe'.

9. Beckett was considered by all kinds of women as one of the most handsome men of his time. He had various lovers including the heiress and great art collector Peggy Guggenheim.

10. Hard as it is to believe for one of the most avowed atheists of the 20th century, the most quoted book in Beckett's entire oeuvre of plays, prose and poetry is the King James Bible. As many have found to their surprise, Beckett's sensitivity and empathy with the marginalised and downtrodden is not a far cry from that of the Church after all.

:: The 6th Happy Days International Beckett Festival takes place in Enniskillen and Omagh from August 1-5. Tickets are available from artsoverborders.com

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