Kenneth Halliwell with his parents Kenneth aged 16



Joe 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.

Becoming sullen and withdrawn, he rarely spoke with his father.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 the authorities.

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.

Halliwell 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 onto.

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