A Life Like Other People’s
by Alan Bennett
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 256 pages, $22.
ENGLISH PLAYWRIGHT Alan Bennett, who’s written over fifty scripts for stage and screen, has long been regarded as a national treasure in his home country, and he recently saw his career go mainstream here in the United States as well. The runaway success of his play The History Boys (2004), which won six Tony Awards and was adapted into a popular and critically acclaimed film in 2006, catapulted Bennett’s prolific career into the international spotlight. Despite his lengthy list of successes, the sudden attention that Bennett received outside the UK—especially for a work that’s more openly gay than anything else he had written—must have taken the writer, now aged 76, slightly by surprise. His most recent play, The Habit of Art (2009), is equally gay-themed, focusing on an imagined meeting between the poet W. H. Auden, the composer Benjamin Britten, and a “rent boy” in whom the two share an interest.