Rattigan, Terence

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Rattigan, Terence Gender: M
Terence Mervyn Rattigan
born on 9 June 1911 at 23:55 (= 11:55 PM )
Place London, England, 51n30, 0w10
Timezone GMT h0e (is standard time)
Data source
Rodden Rating B
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_gemcol.18.gif 18°00' s_mo.18.gif s_scocol.18.gif 27°11 Asc.s_aqucol.18.gif 27°47'

Terence Rattigan
photo: Allan Warren, license gfdl


British playwright, a master of the well-made play, a notable success from 1936, when he achieved his first London success with "French Without Tears." From then on, he had a play produced virtually every season for 20 years, a total of 23 West End plays.

His urbane, literate plays include "The Winslow Boy," 1947, which won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for best foreign play of the year. He also wrote "The Browning Version," 1949, "Separate Tables," 1956 the screenplay "The Yellow Rolls Royce," 1964. His "Collected Plays" was published in 1954 and he was knighted in 1971 by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the theatre.

His father Frank was a diplomat and his grandfather a knight. Educated at Harrow School and the University of Oxford, he enjoyed a youth marked by travel. Though upscale, the family was neither wealthy nor part of high society. While at Harrow on a scholarship, he was open about his newly found homosexuality. At the time and in his circles, it was quite fashionable to do so though, later on as he became known he took great pains to hide his sexual preference.

Setting his sights on writing, Terence compromised with his dad’s disapproval by saying that if he did not make a success of playwriting within two years, he would take a "respectable job." It took him a matter of months: he wrote and produced his first play in 1934. Within two years he was gaining rave reviews and financial success. He soon began to live a life of pleasure, indulging freely in drinking and gambling. But just as Rattigan appeared to be self-destructing, Hitler invaded Denmark and Norway and he joined the Royal Air Force, 1940.

For the first time in Rattigan's life, he found himself surrounded by men who came from all walks of life, and he was captivated by them. Hearing that voice of Everyman, he wrote to reach the common theatergoer, even giving this muse a whimsical name: Aunt Edna. With a string of hits that went on to "While the Sun Shines," 1943, "Love in Idleness," "The Browning Version," "Separate Tables," 1945, "The Winslow Boy," 1946 and others, it seemed as though Rattigan could not miss. His Aunt Edna spoke to him unerringly and Rattigan enjoyed uninterrupted success from 1936 until 1956.

However, Rattigan's charmed existence was soon to change. When John Osborne revolutionized the theater world in 1956 with his play "Look Back In Anger," the attention he and other "angry young men" playwrights received caused Rattigan and his meticulous craftsmanship to be seen as hopelessly out-dated, in direct contrast with everything these young writers stood for. Rattigan was reviled in the press.

Subsequently, his play, "Ross" 1960, was less traditional in its structure, exploring the life of T.E. Lawrence of Arabia. "A Bequest to the Nation," 1970, reviewed the intimate, personal aspects of Lord Nelson's life. His last play was "Cause Celebre," 1977.

Though the theater world now spurned him, Rattigan had began a successful film career.

He was nominated for Academy Awards for David Lean's "Breaking The Sound Barrier," 1953 and for "Separate Tables," 1959, which received seven nominations including Best Picture. In 1959, he won the Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival for "The Browning Version." His other screenplays included "The Yellow Rolls Royce," 1965 and "Goodbye Mr. Chips," 1968.

For three decades this century Terence Rattigan was a gilded figure to millions of theatergoers. Two of his plays ran for more than 1000 performances in the West End, a record to this day; four others ran for more than 500. Rattigan numbered amongst his friends all the great actors of his time, including John Gielgud, David Niven, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Leighton, Peggy Ashcroft and Vivien Leigh, and he was only the second playwright this century to be awarded a knighthood.

Though he may have been seen as a playboy sophisticate, in private Rattigan was a man tormented by fears, determined to conceal his pain and suffering, his loneliness and his homosexuality behind a polished façade of relaxation and wit. Perhaps no other dramatist this century has written with such understanding of the human heart. Yet the man behind the work was elusive and mysterious, even to those who thought they knew him well.

Michael Franklin (whom Rattigan called 'Midget') had become his companion and friend from the early 1950s and would remain with him throughout the rest of his life.

In 1962, Terence Rattigan was diagnosed with leukemia. After two years of doing little more than waiting for his eminent death, Rattigan rather unexpectedly recovered, but it was no longer the days of his prime, and he lapsed, becoming ill again in 1968. He retired to Bermuda where he spent the rest of his days. He died on Wednesday, 11/30/1977.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • Work : New Career 1934 (Wrote and produced first play)
  • Work : Gain social status 1936 (First play comes to public attention)
  • Social : Joined group 1940 (Joined the Royal Air Force)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1947 (Play produced)
  • Work : Prize 1947 (Best Foreign Play of the Year Award)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1954 (Collection of plays published)
  • Work : Lose social status 1956 (Plays classified as out-dated)
  • Work : Prize 1959 (Best Screenplay Award, Cannes Film Festival)
  • Health : Chronic illness 1962 (Leukemia)
  • Health : Begin remission 1964 (Leukemia gone)
  • Health : End remission 1968 (Leukemia returns)
  • Work : Gain social status 1971 (Knighted)

Source Notes

Sy Scholfield quotes Geoffrey Wansell, "Terence Rattigan," London: Fourth Estate, 1995, p. 13. "Rattigan was not born on 10 June 1911, though he, himself, never corrected the error. In fact Vera Rattigan gave birth to her second son in an upstairs room at Lanarkslea, her mother-in-law's house in Cornwall Gardens, shortly before midnight on 9 June, as his birth certificate at the Kensington Register Office and the announcement in The Times two days later duly stated."


  • Traits : Personality : Solitary/ Introvert (Hidden loneliness)
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Cancer (Remission, relapse, terminal)
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Spontaneous healing (Two year period of remission)
  • Family : Relationship : Mate - Same sex (Over 20 years with Michael Franklin)
  • Lifestyle : Social Life : Friends (Noted actors/actresses)
  • Lifestyle : Social Life : Party animal (Drinking and gambling during success)
  • Passions : Sexuality : Homosexual male (Open when young, concealed in latter years)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Business : Entertain Producer (Film career)
  • Vocation : Military : Military service (Royal Air Force, WW I)
  • Vocation : Writers : Playwright/ script (Famed playwright)
  • Notable : Awards : Knighted
  • Notable : Awards : Vocational award (Cannes Film Festival)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession