Steven Berkhoff, Tom Stoppard and Julian Sands honour Harold Pinter at Hackney plaque unveiling

PUBLISHED: 14:33 25 September 2012 | UPDATED: 14:38 25 September 2012

Steven Berkoff, Lady Antonia Fraser,Tom Stoppard, Julian Sands at the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Harold Pinter. Photo: Carmen Valino

Steven Berkoff, Lady Antonia Fraser,Tom Stoppard, Julian Sands at the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Harold Pinter. Photo: Carmen Valino


Actors Steven Berkoff and Julian Sands were in the audience on Saturday, as a plaque to mark the Lower Clapton birthplace of playwright and Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter was unveiled by his widow.

Lady Antonia Fraser Pinter pulled the curtain on the tribute, marking the house in Thistlewaite Road where Pinter - who died in 2008 aged 78 - grew up.

“Harold would have been very happy about this. He was extremely proud of his origins - and quite rightly so,” said historian Lady Antonia.

“As his work makes very clear, they had made him what he was.

“Plus of course that extra dash of inspiration which was entirely his,” she added.

“We can imagine Harold as a very happy boy, combing these streets, reading Shakespeare with his friends, reciting the gloomier parts of the Elizabethan playwright Webster just for the fun of it as he entered this house, and having a great deal of fun in between.

“He loved his boyhood. So it is with great happiness and not a little emotion that I unveil this plaque in his memory.”

Pinter’s education was disrupted by the Second World War when he was evacuated to Cornwall and Berkshire, but on his return in 1944, he attended Hackney Downs Grammar School.

His interest in drama and literature was awakened here by his inspirational English teacher Joseph Brearley to whom he paid tribute in his poem Dear Joe, which was recited by A Room With A View actor Julian Sands.

Chair of the Clapton Pond Neighbourhood Action Group which sponsored the plaque, Cllr Ian Rathbone, said: “This particular plaque brings us a reminder of how someone from here in inner city Clapton can go on to make a significant contribution to the cultural and political life of the whole world. “It is a remarkable story that a lad with Jewish émigré grandparents from Eastern Europe could end up through his artistic endeavour creating a new word in the English language - Pinteresque - and a radical voice speaking out in a troubled world.”

The unveiling was also attended by playwright Tom Stoppard and MP Diane Abbott.

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