Harold Hobson

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Sir Harold Hobson (4 August 1904 – 12 March 1992) was an English drama critic and author.

Life and career[edit]

He was born in Thorpe Hesley near Rotherham in South Yorkshire, England. He attended Sheffield Grammar School, from where he gained a scholarship to Oriel College at Oxford University, graduating with a second-class degree in Modern History in 1928.[1]

In 1931 he began to write London theatre reviews for the Christian Science Monitor and in 1935 he was employed on the paper's staff, remaining its London drama critic until 1974.[1] He was an assistant literary editor for the Sunday Times from 1944 and later became its drama critic (1947–76). He was the only drama critic to recognise Harold Pinter's talent as a dramatist[2] and wrote of The Birthday Party: "I am willing to risk whatever reputation I have as a judge of plays by saying ... that Mr Pinter, on the evidence of this work, possesses the most original, disturbing and arresting talent in theatrical London."[3] During his career, he was to champion many other new playwrights, especially John Osborne, Samuel Beckett and Tom Stoppard.

Hobson also wrote for Drama and The Listener and was a regular member of the BBC radio programme The Critics. In the 1960s, he was invited by Peter Hall to join the board of the National Theatre.

Hobson wrote a number of books relating to British and French theatre, including his autobiography, entitled Indirect Journey (1978), and a personal history based on his work as a drama critic, Theatre in Britain (1984).

Harold Hobson received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 1977.


  1. ^ a b Michael Billington, "Hobson, Sir Harold (1904–1992)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, October 2009, accessed 1 July 2015.
  2. ^ Peter Hall, "Godotmania", The Guardian, 4 January 2003.
  3. ^ Quoted in Michael Billington, "Fighting talk" (on 50th anniversary of the opening of The Birthday Party at the Lyric Hammersmith), The Guardian, 3 May 2008.