Son of a factory boss who went on to be Angry

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BARNSLEY-born playwright John Arden - among the 1950s’ so-called Angry Young Men - has died aged 81.

Arden was born in Barnsley in 1930. His mother was a former primary school teacher and his father managed a glass factory.

When World War Two broke out Arden was sent away to boarding school, and during National Service he served in the Intelligence Corps. In 1953 he went to King’s College, Oxford, and from there to Edinburgh College of Art.

He made his name in 1959 with the play Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance, set in Yorkshire in the late 1800s, which told the story of four Army deserters who return home to a northern English town.

It won the Evening Standard award for best play in 1960 and became a staple on the school curriculum - though it ran for only 28 performances and was a financial disaster.

John Arden was at the forefront of innovative drama in the 1960s but by the 1970s he decided there was no place for him in British mainstream theatre and moved with his wife Margaretta to Ireland where he wrote fiction. He is survived by his wife and four sons.