Harold Pinter portrait to help Hackney youth

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The late Harold Pinter’s charitable spirit lives on.

The portrait of the playwright that hung above the desk on which he wrote his masterpieces is now up for auction to raise money for disadvantaged youth in Hackney.

It captures the Nobel Laureate playing cricket, the game he described as “better than sex” and “God’s greatest creation”.

pinter-portrait

The Pinter family has already received an anonymous bid of £4,000 for the portrait, but hopes it will fetch enough to buy a specially adapted minibus that costs up to £42,000 and will help special needs schools take their pupils on day trips.

Pinter died on Christmas Eve, aged 78, after a long battle with cancer.

Harry Burton, actor and cricketing colleague, said: “Lady Antonia [Fraser, Pinter’s widow] has agreed to donate the painting for a game to recognise Harold’s love of cricket. We hope it can raise funds for disadvantaged kids in Hackney.”

Pinter was born in 1930, the son of Jewish immigrants who ran a tailor’s shop in Stoke Newington.
After being evacuated during the Second World War, he attended Hackney Downs School, where he played Romeo and Macbeth in the 1947 and 1948 productions of the play at the school.

Tiptree Strawberry RaceThe Birthday Party playwright was also a screenwriter, poet, political activist and novelist. One of his novels was an autobiographical piece about Hackney life which was eventually published in 1990 as The Dwarfs.

Michael Billington, Pinter’s official biographer told the Hackney Post that his birthplace “meant a huge amount to Harold. He was always loyal to Hackney.”

“The Homecoming is full of Hackney atmosphere and the language seems full of what I would call earthy, tough Hackney dialogue,” he said.

“He used to spend a lot of spare time in the local library and cafes. I think his life was saturated with Hackney.

“He owed a great debt to it.”

–  To place a bid for the portrait, e-mail pinter@lordstaverners.org