Alan Bennett reveals he was 'interfered with' as child but plays down the trauma
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Tuesday 12 March 2013
In his play The History Boys, Alan Bennett raised eyebrows with his sympathetic portrayal of Hector, the teacher forced to step down for fondling his teenage pupils.
Now the playwright has revealed new details about his own experience of predatory adults – saying that he had been "interfered with" as a child but was not greatly affected by the experience.
Bennett, one of Britain's best loved writers, told the Radio Times that when he was around 10, "one often found one's legs were touched up by old gentlemen, in a mild sort of way. It never got beyond that."
The 78-year-old continued: "It didn't bother me. I knew it was wrong, but I knew I shouldn't say anything about it because I knew they would get into trouble. But the notion that one would be scarred for life…"
Bennett also revealed that amid the heightened sensitivity about child abuse in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, he had been asked about re-writing the role of Hector, originally played by Richard Griffiths, in a less affectionate light.
"I just said no. It never occurred to me. It's a ridiculous idea that I might rewrite it and I said so, kindly, it was never on the cards," Bennett said.
The History Boys premiered at the National Theatre in 2004, winning a string of awards including an Olivier for best new play and a best play Tony Award in the US, where it ran for 185 performances. The cast included James Cordon and Dominic Cooper.
Bennett, who is in a civil partnership with journalist Rupert Thomas, also said he had no plans to get married. "I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about over gay marriage," he said.
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