playwright born in Portsmouth, educated at Chichester High School and Cambridge. His father was a policeman who later became a Methodist minister in Yorkshire. Coppers and clergy feature heavily in many of the short Brenton plays which powered the London fringe in the early 1970s. An avowed socialist, Brenton is a unique and powerful voice whose plays combine jagged writing with raw, Jacobean theatricality. His plays include Magnificence (1973, Royal Court), Brassneck (1973, with D. Hare), The Churchill Play (1974), and four controversial successes at the National Theatre: Weapons of Happiness (1976); a new version of Brecht's Galileo; The Romans in Britain (1980), an allegory of the British in Northern Ireland, which attracted an ill‐fated private prosecution by Mrs Mary Whitehouse; Pravda (1985, with Hare) in which Anthony Hopkins played the leading role; and Paul (2005), Brenton's verson of the life of St Paul. Moscow Gold (1990, with T. Ali) and Berlin Bertie (1992) tackle new political realities. His other works include Diving for Pearls (1989, novel) and Hot Irons (1995, occasional pieces and production diaries).