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Famous Playwrights from England

Updated June 14, 2019 13.3k views309 items

List of notable or famous playwrights from England, with bios and photos, including the top playwrights born in England and even some popular playwrights who immigrated to England. If you're trying to find out the names of famous English playwrights then this list is the perfect resource for you. These playwrights are among the most prominent in their field, and information about each well-known playwright from England is included when available.

A factual list, featuring people like Aphra Behn and Ben Elton.

This historic playwrights from England list can help answer the questions "Who are some English playwrights of note?" and "Who are the most famous playwrights from England?" These prominent playwrights of England may or may not be currently alive, but what they all have in common is that they're all respected English playwrights.

Use this list of renowned English playwrights to discover some new playwrights that you aren't familiar with. Don't forget to share this list by clicking one of the social media icons at the top or bottom of the page. {#nodes}
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  • 26

    Joseph Addison

    Dec. at 47 (1672-1719)

    BirthplaceMilston, United Kingdom

    Joseph Addison (1 May 1672 – 17 June 1719) was an English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician. He was the eldest son of The Reverend Lancelot Addison. His name is usually remembered alongside...  more
  • 27

    David Garrick

    Dec. at 61 (1717-1779)

    BirthplaceHereford, United Kingdom

    David Garrick (19 February 1717 – 20 January 1779) was an English actor, playwright, theatre manager and producer who influenced nearly all aspects of theatrical practice throughout the 18th century,...  more
  • 28

    Simon Gray

    Dec. at 71 (1936-2008)

    BirthplaceHayling Island, England

    Simon James Holliday Gray (21 October 1936 – 7 August 2008) was an English playwright and memoirist who also had a career as a university lecturer in English literature at Queen Mary, University of...  more
  • 29

    John Osborne

    Dec. at 65 (1929-1994)

    BirthplaceEngland, London

    John James Osborne (Fulham, London, 12 December 1929 – 24 December 1994) was an English playwright, screenwriter and actor, known for his excoriating prose and intense critical stance towards...  more
  • 30

    BirthplaceLiverpool, United Kingdom

    Alan Bleasdale (born 23 March 1946) is an English screenwriter, best known for social realist drama serials based on the lives of ordinary people. A former teacher, he has written for radio, stage...  more
  • 31

    Algernon Swinburne

    Dec. at 72 (1837-1909)

    BirthplaceLondon, United Kingdom

    Algernon Charles Swinburne (5 April 1837 – 10 April 1909) was an English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic. He wrote several novels and collections of poetry such as Poems and Ballads, and...  more

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    #960 of 1,172 The Best Writers of All Time#203 of 250 The Best Gay Authors

  • 32

    Alec Coppel

    Dec. at 64 (1907-1972)

    BirthplaceMelbourne, Australia

    Alec Coppel was an Australian-born screenwriter, novelist and playwright. He spent the majority of his career in London and Hollywood, specialising in light thrillers, mysteries and sex comedies. He...  more
  • 33

    BirthplaceWhiston, United Kingdom

    William Russell (born 23 August 1947) is an English dramatist, lyricist and composer. His best known works are Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine, Blood Brothers and Our Day Out....  more
  • 34

    Clifford Bax

    Dec. at 76 (1886-1962)

    BirthplaceTooting Bec, London, United Kingdom

    Clifford Bax (13 July 1886 – 18 November 1962) was a versatile English writer, known particularly as a playwright, a journalist, critic and editor, and a poet, lyricist and hymn writer. He also was a...  more
  • 35

    William Congreve

    Dec. at 58 (1670-1729)

    BirthplaceBardsey, United Kingdom

    William Congreve (24 January 1670 – 19 January 1729) was an English playwright and poet of the Restoration period. He is known for his clever, satirical dialogue and influence on the comedy of...  more
  • 36

    BirthplaceLondon, United Kingdom

    Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, PC (25 May 1803 – 18 January 1873) was an English writer and politician. He served as a Whig MP from 1831 to 1841 and a Conservative MP...  more
  • 37

    BirthplaceHornsea, United Kingdom

    Peter Harness is an English playwright, screenwriter and actor. He grew up in Hornsea, East Yorkshire and attended Oriel College, Oxford where he studied English and graduated with a first. He is a...  more
  • 38

    John Mortimer

    Dec. at 85 (1923-2009)

    BirthplaceHampstead, London, England

    Sir John Clifford Mortimer (21 April 1923 – 16 January 2009) was an English barrister, dramatist, screenwriter, and author....  more
  • 39

    Roy Hudd

    Age: 85

    BirthplaceCroydon, London, United Kingdom

    Roy Hudd, OBE (born 16 May 1936) is an English comedian, actor, presenter, radio host, author and authority on the history of music hall entertainment....  more
  • 40

    Dennis Potter

    Dec. at 59 (1935-1994)

    BirthplaceEurasia, South West England, Berry Hill, United Kingdom, Gloucestershire

    Dennis Christopher George Potter (17 May 1935 – 7 June 1994) was an English television dramatist, screenwriter and journalist. He is best known for his BBC TV serials Pennies from Heaven (1978), The...  more
  • 41

    William Davenant

    Dec. at 62 (1606-1668)

    BirthplaceOxford, United Kingdom

    Sir William Davenant (baptised 3 March 1606 – 7 April 1668), also spelled D'Avenant, was an English poet and playwright. Along with Thomas Killigrew, Davenant was one of the rare figures in English...  more
  • 42

    Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

    Dec. at 73 (1689-1762)

    BirthplaceLondon, United Kingdom

    Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (née Pierrepont; baptised 26 May 1689 – 21 August 1762) was an English aristocrat, letter writer, and poet. Lady Mary is today chiefly remembered for her letters,...  more
  • 43

    W. Somerset Maugham

    Dec. at 91 (1874-1965)

    BirthplaceFrance, Paris

    William Somerset Maugham, CH ( MAWM; 25 January 1874 – 16 December 1965), better known as W. Somerset Maugham, was an English playwright, novelist, and short story writer. He was among the most...  more

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    #735 of 2,753 The Most Influential People of All Time#52 of 171 The Best Short Story Writers of All Time

  • 44

    BirthplaceBromley, United Kingdom

    Hanif Kureishi, CBE (born 5 December 1954) is a British playwright, screenwriter, filmmaker and novelist of Pakistani and English descent. In 2008, The Times included Kureishi in their list of "The...  more
  • 45

    BirthplaceLondon, United Kingdom

    Leslie Bricusse (born 29 January 1931) is an English composer, lyricist, and playwright, most prominently working in musicals and also cinema theme music....  more
  • 46

    Anthony Shaffer

    Dec. at 75 (1926-2001)

    BirthplaceLiverpool, United Kingdom

    Anthony Shaffer may refer to: Anthony Shaffer (writer), English playwright, novelist, and screenwriter Anthony Shaffer (intelligence officer), U.S. Army intelligence officer and memoirist...  more
  • 47

    BirthplaceHampstead, London, United Kingdom

    Sir Alan Ayckbourn (born 12 April 1939) is a prolific British playwright and director. He has written and produced more than seventy full-length plays in Scarborough and London and was, between 1972...  more
  • 48

    Richard Harris

    Dec. at 72 (1930-2002)
    Richard St. John Harris (1 October 1930 – 25 October 2002) was an Irish actor and singer. He appeared on stage and in many films, appearing as Frank Machin in This Sporting Life, for which he was...  more

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    #11 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today#47 of 220 The Greatest British Actors of All Time

  • 49

    Mike Leigh

    Age: 78

    BirthplaceWelwyn Garden City, England

    Mike Leigh (born 20 February 1943) is an English writer and director of film and theatre. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) before honing his directing skills at East 15 Acting...  more

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    #121 of 250 The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked#232 of 732 The Greatest Directors In Movie History

  • 50

    Jimmie Chinn

    Dec. at 71 (1940-2011)
    Jimmie Chinn was an actor, teacher and most notably, a playwright....  more