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

Life and careerEdit

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.