Leonie regularly takes part in Orton events and with her sister Marilyn administers the Orton Estate. She recently advised on and gave guided talks of the retrospective exhibition 'Ortonesque' which was held in Spring 2007 at Leicester's New Walk Museum.

This exhibition brought together for the first time collections of Joe Orton's literary papers and memorabilia from the University of Leicester's Orton Collection, defaced library books from Islington Local History Centre and personal items such as his typewriter from The Orton Estate's collection. See some of the exhibited items in the Gallery Section here



I want to talk to you about Joe Orton.

The two people who influenced Joe the most were his mother and Kenneth Halliwell. If one of these two people had not been there then Joe’s writing would have been different. Joe’s plays and novels relate to the way he was socialised. In an interview he said that ‘My writing reflects the life I’ve lived. If I’d had a different life my writing would be different.’

For us girls education wasn’t prized or encouraged in the Orton household. If I made a mistake I was either beaten or told I was stupid. I now realise to quote Samuel Beckett, ‘Fail. Fail Again. Fail Better next time.’ However Joe was able to escape from this and eventually challenged society’s fervently held moral values through satire, exploding myth after myth.

He hated middle class pompousness, the ‘holier than thou’ attitude. Joe’s recently published early works, such as as Fred and Madge, show his emergence as a satirist, attacking the lower middle class provincial life and obsession with work as a virtue. As he progressed and developed, his work tackled more universal issues; in Loot he lampoons institutions such as police corruption and hypocrisy in the church.

I must emphasise that I am constantly having my perception changed about Joe. That’s good because there isn’t just one Joe Orton.

Image: Courtesy Leonie Orton Barnett   Text © Leonie Orton Barnett  

Copyright Notice: Reproduction of material on Joe Orton Online is not permitted without prior approval from the owner of the
relevant intellectual property rights. For full terms of use click here
Joe Orton Online was created and developed by Alison Forsythe.
Web Design © Alison Forsythe.