Alun Owen Papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This is a collection of papers which provides an insight into the life of an actor and writer. It is also of importance in the greater context of the history of English drama. His plays were written during a time when social realism was a growing movement. Real, working class life was being depicted in the work of dramatists and Alun Owen was one of a generation of writers, alongside the likes of John Osbourne and Harold Pinter, who was championing this kitchen sink realism.

Armchair Theatre (ITV) and Play for Today (BBC) produced socially relevant and challenging drama that addressed sensitive issues. “No Trams to Lime Street” was screened on Armchair Theatre in 1959 and is one of its best-known plays, alongside “A Night Out “(1960) by Harold Pinter.

This collection contains drama scripts, theatre programmes, photographs and even the little red “Lion Brand” and “Silvine” note books in which Alun Owen used to write his plays before they were typed by his wife.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alun Owen was born in 1925 in Menai Bridge. His father, Sidney Owen, was a Welshman from Dolgellau and his mother, Ruth, from Holyhead, but of Irish descent. When Alun was 8 years old the family moved to Liverpool where he attended St Michael's Hamlet Primary School and later Oulton High School. As a result, Wales, Ireland and Liverpool were great influences in his life.

When the Second World War broke out he was sent as an evacuee from Liverpool to Llangefni and then to Cardiganshire. He became a Bevin Boy, working in the coal mines of South Wales before turning his hand to acting. He joined the Birmingham Repertory Company and then moved to London to work with various stage companies. As well as appearing in several theatre performances, he also featured in the films, “Shield of Faith”, “Valley of Song” and “The Damn Busters”.

In 1942 Alun Owen married Mary O'Keefe, a set designer. They had two sons, Teifion and Gareth. Mary Owen gave up her career to support her husband and it was she who typed his plays.

Alun Owen began writing in the mid 1950's and in 1957 he had his “big break” as a dramatist when the BBC accepted his radio play “Two Sons”. This success was followed by other well-known plays such as “Progress to the Park”, “Rough and Ready Lot” and the musical “Maggie May”. Although Alun Owen is probably best-known for being the scriptwriter for “A Hard Day's Night”, the 1964 Beatles film, it is significant that this work only brought him fame, not fortune.

Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s Alun Owen was a prolific writer (not only writing plays but also articles on all kinds of topics). He worked hard and played hard, and even in his sixties continued to write. One of his last television dramas was based on the life of the artist, Rembrandt. Later in life Alun Owen appears to have taken part in study schools on creative writing.

Alun Owen died in December 1994.

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Acquisition Information

Papers placed on deposit in December 2000.

Other Finding Aids

An item level typescript catalogue is available at the Archives Department of Bangor University.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright conditions apply. Reprographics are made at the discretion of the Archivist.