Heathcote Williams, radical poet, playwright and actor, dies aged 75

It is with heavy heart that we share the news of our friend Heathcote Williams passing. For those who are unfamiliar with him, here is an excerpt from his obituary that is currently running in “The Guardian”:

“He was the author of many polemical poems, written over four decades in a unique documentary style. They included works about the devastation being wrought on the natural environment – Sacred Elephant, Whale Nation and Falling For a Dolphin – and Autogeddon, a grim and majestic attack on the car.

Williams also wrote several successful stage plays including AC/DC, which premiered at the Royal Court in 1969, and The Local Stigmatic, commissioned by Harold Pinter and revived in 2014 at the Old Red Lion Theatre in London on its 50th anniversary. His most recent play, Killing Kit, was about the life and death of Christopher Marlowe.

Scruffy on screen and off, Williams appeared in several films, often in cameo roles. He was a notable Prospero in Derek Jarman’s 1979 production of The Tempest. Other credits were Sally Potter’s arthouse Orlando, based on Virginia Woolf’s novel, and Hollywood’s Basic Instinct 2.

Williams was a very talented figure. He was an accomplished painter – his vivid works hung at the Oxford home he shared with his partner, Diana Senior – and sculptor. He was an impressive conjuror and a member of the Magic Circle. One of his TV plays, What the Dickens!, featured Dickens performing magic shows for children.

His literary output was prolific. It included a book on Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, published when he was 23, and in later life he wrote several poems a month, driven by news and current affairs. As mainstream publishers dried up, these appeared online as YouTube video montages, often narrated by the actors Alan Cox and Roy Hutchins.

At heart, Williams was a revolutionary. The historian Peter Whitfield placed his work in a “great tradition of visionary dissent” stretching from William Blake and John Ruskin to DH Lawrence and David Jones. His poems – blasting the arms trade, consumerism and the tabloids – were “wonderfully innocent” and at the same time “wonderfully streetwise”.”

For the full obituary, click here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jul/02/heathcote-williams-radical-poet-playwright-actor-dies-aged-75