Politics

Edward Bond, Whose Brazen Work Freed British Drama From Royal Censors, Dies at 89

No modern British dramatist polarized his countrymen as much as Edward Bond, who died on Sunday at age 89.

To some he was an unholy terror, relentless in his doctrinaire socialism and disconcertingly fond of violent theatrical effects. To others he was almost a secular saint, a writer of unflinching integrity in a world of compromise and so sensitive to human frustration that he invariably peopled his plays with characters suffering, often graphically, from extreme forms of oppression and exploitation.

But both parties would agree that his first important play, “Saved,” precipitated the end of theatrical censorship in Britain.

A spokeswoman for Casarotto Ramsay & Associates, Bond’s agent, confirmed his death in a telephone interview, but declined to say how he died.

In 1965, the Royal Court Theater submitted “Saved,” a graphic portrait of mostly young and sometimes violent no-hopers adrift in London’s lower depths, to the Lord Chamberlain, who had held absolute power over British drama since 1737. The response by a functionary was widely thought of as absurdly anachronistic:A scene in which hooligans stone to death a baby in a pram could not be publicly staged.

Mr. Bond refused to alter a line, and the Royal Court supported him by temporarily becoming a private club, and, as the law then stood, no longer needing the Lord Chamberlain’s sanction.

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