The Life of Tom Stoppard

Thomas Stoppard was born as Tom Straussler on July 3rd, 1937. At that time, his family resided in Zlin (now Gottwaldov), Czechoslovakia. Just two years later, the family relocated to Singapore to escape the Naziís. Tom did not remain in Singapore, as he evacuated to Darjeeling, India, along with his mother and his brother. His father, Eugene Straussler, stayed behind and was killed during the Japanese invasion of Singapore. The family made their final move when they immigrated to England after Tomís mother married Kenneth Stoppard, an officer in the British Army. Thus, the playwright we know and love entered the world. Tom also started school at Dolphin School in Nottinghamshire. From 1948-54, Tom proceeded to finish his education at Pocklington School in Yorkshire. After completing his preliminary education, he left school at the age of seventeen and went on to devote the next six years to being a full-time journalist, reporting on film and theatre.

He first became a "cub" reporter for the Western Daily Press in Bristol from 1954-1958. He then moved on to work an additional two years for the Bristol Evening World. Between 1960 and 1964, Stoppard quit his reporting job to pursue his writing, while writing two weekly columns for the Daily Press.

His first endeavor was a stage play, A Walk on the Water. Additionally, he worked as a dramatic critic for Scene Magazine, now defunct, sold three short stories to Faber and Faber, earned a commission for a novel, had two fifteen minute radio plays, "The Dissolution of Dominic Boot" and "'M' is for Moon," "Among Other Things" (produced by the BBC), and wrote five episodes for the television series The Dales. He was invited to a colloquium for five months in West Berlin by the Ford Foundation. This is where he wrote the first draft of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

In 1965, Stoppard gained his first recognition as a writer when the Royal Shakespeare Company took an option on a revised version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. During this same year, he also completed the radio plays Albert's Bridge and Artist Descending a Staircase.

Stoppard's popularity grew in 1966 when the BBC broadcast his one-act radio play, "If You're Glad, I'll Be Frank," his adaptation of Mrozek's Tango debuted at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and his novel, Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon was published.

1967 brought international acclaim came for Stoppard when Rosencrantz and Guildenstern debuted at the Old Vic. Just one year later, his first play, A Walk on the Water, finally reached the legitimate stage in a revised version, titled Enter a Free Man.

From this time on, Tom Stoppard's Work has continued to grow in popularity and influence. To date, he has written 22 books, 41 plays (many of which are simply his books coming to life on the stage), and eleven screenplays. In recognition of his work, he has been honored with twelve different awards. Many of those awards were received multiple times, though. All in all, Stoppard has twenty awards to show for his efforts.

Tom Stoppard has been married twice, once in 1965 and again in 1972. His first marriage was to Jose Ingle, a nurse, and lasted only six years. Stoppard fathered two sons with Jose. In 1972, the marriage dissolved, and within the same year, Stoppard met and wed Dr. Miriam Moore-Robinson, the head of a pharmaceutical company. Stoppard fathered two more sons in his second marriage. The relationship ended in 1992 as Stoppard began a relationship with Felicity Kendal.

BACK to Stoppard homepage

Created by Heather Trimble and Shannon Smiley, 3/5/98

edited by: Paul Schroeckenstein, 3/30/99 and Mallory Heyen, 5/11/05


Contemporary Dramatists, 5th ed., pages 636-640

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