Penelope Gilliatt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Penelope Gilliatt (/ˈɪliət/; born Penelope Ann Douglass Conner; 25 March 1932 – 9 May 1993) was an English novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, and film critic.

Born in London, her father, Cyril Conner, was originally a barrister. Her mother was Marie Stephanie Douglass. Both came from Newcastle upon Tyne. Gilliatt herself was brought up in Northumberland, where her father was director of the BBC in the North East from 1938–41, and she retained a lifelong love of the Roman Wall country.

She married Roger Gilliatt in 1954, and carried on using his name thereafter.[1] Gilliatt wrote several novels, including One by One (1965),and A State of Change (1967). Her short stories were collected in Nobody's Business (1972).[citation needed]

As a film critic, Gilliatt wrote numerous reviews for The Observer before she began a column that ran for years in The New Yorker, in which she alternated for six-month intervals with Pauline Kael as that publication's chief film critic. Gilliatt's column ran from late spring to early fall, and Kael's for the remainder of the year. Her career as a film critic for The New Yorker ended in 1979, after it was determined that a Profile she had written of Graham Greene contained unattributed passages taken from a piece about Greene that had appeared in The Nation two years before. The fact-checker had warned editor William Shawn of the plagiarism, but Shawn published the article anyway. Following its appearance, Greene said that Gilliatt’s ”so-called Profile” of him was “inaccurate” and the product of a “rather wild imagination.”[2][3]

In addition to her criticism, Gilliatt is remembered for writing the screenplay for Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), an accepting treatment of homosexuality. She won several Best Screenplay awards for the film, including the New York Film Critics Circle Award, Writers Guild of America, USA, and Writers' Guild of Great Britain. The screenplay was also nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA.

Her novel Mortal Matters (1983), much concerned with shipbuilding and suffragettes, is largely set in Northumberland and Newcastle. There are several pages devoted to Hexham, and numerous mentions of Newcastle locations. She celebrates the achievements of the North East, including the vessels Mauretania and Charles Parsons' Turbinia. Gilliatt also praises the Torrens, the Sunderland-built ship on which Joseph Conrad served for two years from 1891.

Personal life

Gilliatt was married to playwright John Osborne from 1963 to 1968, living at 31 Chester Square in central London in a house designed by architect Sir Hugh Casson. She gave birth to their only child, a daughter named Nolan, whom Osborne later disowned. The house was sold in the late 1980s, before she died from alcoholism.[4] Following her divorce from Osborne, she had affairs with Mike Nichols and Edmund Wilson.[3] The New York Times film critic Vincent Canby was her companion for many years.[5]


  1. ^ "Obituary: Penelope Gilliatt". 14 May 1993. 
  2. ^ Mitgang, Herbert (12 May 1979). "Greene Calls Profile of Him In New Yorker Inaccurate" – via 
  3. ^ a b Weinman, Sarah (13 January 2012). "The Other Film Critic at The New Yorker" – via Slate. 
  4. ^ "Exit the Rupert pillowcase, enter Feng Shui". 9 March 1997. 
  5. ^ Malcolm, Derek (17 October 2000). "Vincent Canby" – via The Guardian. 

External links

  • Penelope Gilliatt on IMDb
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Penelope Gilliatt"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA