26 July 1882|
Eccles, Lancashire, England
|Died||25 July 1958
Harold Brighouse (26 July 1882 – 25 July 1958) was an English playwright and author whose best known play is Hobson's Choice. He was a prominent member, together with Allan Monkhouse and Stanley Houghton, of a group known as the Manchester School of dramatists.
Harold Brighouse was born in Eccles, Salford, the eldest child of John Southworth Brighouse, a manager in a cotton-spinning firm, and Charlotte Amelia née Harrison, a headmistress. Harold went to a local school, then won a scholarship to Manchester Grammar School. He left school aged 17 and started work as a textile buyer in a shipping merchant's office. In 1902 he went to London to set up an office for his firm. There he met Emily Lynes and married her in Lillington, Leamington Spa in 1907. He was promoted at work and returned to Manchester, but in 1908 he became a full-time writer.
The first play written by Brighouse was Lonesome Like, but the first to be produced was The Doorway. This was performed in 1909 at Annie Horniman's Gaiety Theatre in Manchester and produced by Ben Iden Payne. Horniman and Payne gave strong support to Brighouse in the early stages of his career. Many of his plays were one-act pieces; three of the best of these (The Northerners, Zack and The Game) were published together as Three Lancashire Plays in 1920. All of these plays were set in Lancashire but Brighouse also wrote plays of a different type, such as The Oak Settle and Maid of France. His most successful play was Hobson's Choice, first produced in 1915 in New York where Payne was working. It was first produced in England in 1916 at the Apollo Theatre, London, where it ran for 246 performances. The play was made into a film, directed by David Lean, in 1953, and it was produced at the National Theatre at the Old Vic, London, in 1964. The Crucible Theatre Sheffield staged a revival in June 2011 directed by Christopher Luscombe and starring Barrie Rutter, Zoe Waites and Philip McGinley.
Brighouse also wrote novels, including Hepplestalls, concerning a Lancashire mill-owning family in the 19th century. In addition he wrote many reviews and other pieces for the Manchester Guardian. He was a member of the Dramatists' Club and in 1930–31 was chairman of the Society of Authors' dramatic committee. After 1931 he wrote no more full-length plays. His autobiography What I Have Had was published in 1953.
Other activities and later life
In the First World War, Brighouse was declared unfit for combat, but joined what later became the Royal Air Force, and was seconded to the Air Ministry Intelligence Staff, where in his spare time he wrote Hobson's Choice. In 1919 he moved to Hampstead, London. In 1958 he collapsed in the Strand and died the following day in Charing Cross Hospital. His estate amounted to just under £14,500.
- Lonesome-Like (1911)
- Graft (1913)
- The Game (1914)
- The Northerners (1914)
- Garside's Career (1915)
- Hobson's Choice (1916)
- Zack (1920)
- Once a Hero (1922)
- The Dye-Hard (1934)
- Autobiography What I Have Had (1953)