Orton left for RADA in May 1951. During his first few
weeks there he met Kenneth Halliwell, who was to become
the most important person in his life - his friend, his
mentor and his lover.
Halliwell had a troubled childhood. His mother, with whom
he was very close, died in front of him when he was eight
years old after being stung in the mouth by a wasp.
sullen and withdrawn, he rarely spoke with his father.
Aged 20, he came downstairs to find his father had committed
suicide by putting his head in the gas oven. Turning off
the gas, he had a shave and made a cup of tea before calling
Seven years older than the naïve Orton, Halliwell
appeared to be everything he was not. Halliwell impressed
him as a sophisticated and educated man of the world.
Orton recognised Halliwell as someone who could give him
the education he had missed: what to read, how to dress,
what plays to see, what to think, in some respects the
father figure he never had.
similarly appreciated Orton as someone who looked up to
him, appreciated his intelligence and his obvious (to
him) talents, and someone to whom he could pass his knowledge