writer and stage and film director, one of the few outstanding individual British auteurs, who creates his work through intense improvisation and rehearsal in close collaboration with actors. A gifted cartoonist and obsessively outsider‐ish Jew, with a proudly ambivalent attitude to both his background and his fellow humans, his work has the vivacity, humour, and social detail of a latter‐day Hogarth or Dickens. The tragi‐comedy Abigail's Party (1977) is his best‐known stage play, a classic of social embarrassment and observation. Life is Sweet (1990), the tumultuous, Dostoevskyan Naked (1993), and the richly poignant Secrets and Lies (1996) are among the best British films of their era. In print, Leigh is represented by Abigail's Party and Goose‐Pimples (1983), Smelling a Rat and Ecstasy (1989), and Naked and Other Screenplays (1995).