Ranjit Bolt

Ranjit Bolt OBE (born 1959)[1] is a British playwright and translator. He was born in Manchester of Anglo-Indian parents and is the nephew of playwright and screenwriter Robert Bolt.[2][3][4] His father is literary critic Sydney Bolt, author of several books including A preface to James Joyce, and his mother has worked as a teacher of English.[4]

Life and careerEdit

Bolt was educated at The Perse School and Balliol College, Oxford. He worked as a stockbroker for eight years but "was desperate to escape, any escape route would have done, and translating turned out to be the one".[2] As well as his plays, he has published a novel in verse, Losing it[5] and a verse translation for children of the fables of La Fontaine, The Hare and the Tortoise. His version of Cyrano de Bergerac opened on New York at the Roundabout Theatre in September 2012, with Douglas Hodge in the title role. His adaptation of Volpone for Sir Trevor Nunn, was produced by the RSC in the summer of 2015.

He was awarded the OBE in 2003 for services to literature.


Asked about his approach to translating plays, he has said:[2]

I try to follow the rule laid down by perhaps the greatest translator of all, John Dryden, who maintained that a translator should – and I paraphrase – make the version as entertaining as possible, while at the same time remaining as faithful as possible to the spirit of the original.

In August 2014, Bolt was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[6]


Ranjit Bolt has translated many classic plays into English, most of them into verse. Among his works are:

  • Bolt, Ranjit (2001). Losing it: an adult fairytale for those who're tired of fairytales in prose. John Murray. ISBN 071956025X.
  • Bolt, Ranjit (2006). The hare and the Tortoise and other fables of La Fontaine. Giselle Potter (illustrator). Barefoot Books. ISBN 1905236530.

Performances of his workEdit

In 2014 he wrote an English version of the text for Mozart's comic opera, The Impresario, which was given by The Santa Fe Opera in Santa Fe, New Mexico in a double bill paired with Igor Stravinsky's The Nightingale.[7] In 2017, his Tartuffe was performed at Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario.



  1. ^ Background and works on doollee.com
  2. ^ a b c Programme notes for The Grouch, West Yorkshire Playhouse February 2008
  3. ^ Indiana University Bloomington. "Ranjit Bolt, the translator/adaptor, and Aristophanes, the comic playwright". Archived from the original on 26 December 2007. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
  4. ^ a b Royal Shakespeare Company. "Q & A with Ranjit Bolt" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
  5. ^ Peter Forbes, "Latin Lovers", [review of Losing It], The Guardian, (London), 16 June 2001. Accessed 23 February 2008
  6. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". theguardian.com. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  7. ^ James Keller, "Songbirds at the Opera: The Impresario and Le rossignol", The Santa Fe New Mexican, 18 July 2014

Other sources

  • Michael Billington, "Comic timing", The Guardian (London) 16 October 2006

External linksEdit