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Winslow Boy


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A: Terence Rattigan Pf: 1946, London Pb: 1946 G: Drama in 4 acts S: Living room of the Winslows' home, London, 1912–14 C: 7m, 4fFourteen-year-old Cadet Ronnie Winslow is expelled from the Royal Naval College for stealing a five-shilling postal order. Convinced of his innocence, his father Arthur Winslow engages an excellent if apparently unlikeable expert lawyer Sir Robert Morton to prove his son's innocence. The case drags on, draining Arthur's health and money and forcing him to take his older son out of Oxford when he can no longer afford the fees. To the dismay of his wife, and despite becoming a laughing stock to many, Arthur persists, pursuing the affair as far as the House of Commons. His daughter Kate, a suffragette and trade unionist, supports her father, even though it leads to her losing her fiancé. Eventually, Morton wins the case and Ronnie's innocence is proved. Kate discovers that the seemingly supercilious Morton had turned down appointment to the office of Lord Chief Justice so that he could be free to see that ‘Right be done’.

A: Terence Rattigan Pf: 1946, London Pb: 1946 G: Drama in 4 acts S: Living room of the Winslows' home, London, 1912–14 C: 7m, 4f

Based on the actual case of George Archer-Shee's expulsion from the Royal Naval College for petty theft, this was Rattigan's first major success with a serious drama (his comedy French Without Tears had broken box-office records in 1936), and it has since become a modern classic. With characteristically skilful craftsmanship, Rattigan portrays a man with an almost Ibsenite obsession, who rejects the easy way out and defies authority in order to prove the innocence of his son. That, by this stage, the family has suffered greatly and his son seems almost indifferent to the outcome, makes the piece more complex than the simple morality play it might otherwise have become.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) — Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Terence Rattigan (1911—1977) playwright


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