Patrick Hamilton was an English playwright and novelist.
Hamilton was born in the village of Hassocks in Sussex in 1904. His father was an alcoholic; as such, the family spent much of Hamilton's childhood in boarding houses, struggling to make ends meet. His formal schooling ended when he was 15 years old.
Hamilton first embarked upon an acting career before transitioning into writing in his early twenties. He had three novels published by the time he was 24 years old--Monday Morning, Craven House, and Twopence Coloured. He created his trilogy, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, as a semi-autobiographical account of his own experience falling in love with a sex worker. His most popular and enduring novel, Hangover Square, was published in 1941. The book explores social inequality, Marxism, Fascism, and the looming threat of WWII. He wrote four more novels in his life--The Slaves of Solitude (1947), The West Pier (1952), Mr. Stimpson and Mr. Gorse (1953), and Unknown Assailant (1955).
Hamilton's first play, Rope, premiered in March 1929 at the Ambassadors Theatre on London's West End. The murder/thriller plot was loosely inspired by the infamous Leopold and Loeb murder case in Chicago in 1924. The play was a hit, running for 6 months before transferring to Broadway in September of the same year (retitled Rope's End). Rope was adapted into a feature film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1948 starring James Stewart.
Gas Light (sometimes styled as Gaslight or titled Angel Street in America) is perhaps Hamilton's other most popular theatrical work. A Victorian thriller, Gas Light premiered on December 5, 1938 at the Richmond Theatre in London before transferring to the Apollo Theatre and the Savoy Theatre. The production's run, boasting an all-star cast, ran for a total of 141 performances. It premiered on Broadway in 1941 in a production starring Vincent Price and Judith Evelyn. The show was a hit with NYC critics and audiences and ran for 1,295 performances, closing after 3 years. Gas Light has been successfully revived many times over the years in the UK, US, and around the world.
Hamilton was plagued by alcoholism from a young age. He died at the age of 58 kidney failure and cirrhosis of the liver in Norfolk.
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