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Eric Bentley

playwright, translator

Eric Bentley is a renowned critic, playwright, singer, editor and translator. He became an American citizen in 1948, and currently lives in New York City. In 1998 he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame; he is also a member of the New York Theater Hall of Fame, in recognition of his years of performances in cabarets. In addition to teaching at Columbia University from 1953, Bentley was in the a theatre critic for The New Republic, known for his blunt style of theatre criticism. Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller threatened to sue Bentley for his unfavorable reviews of their work, but abandoned the attempt. From 1960-1961, Bentley was the Norton professor at Harvard University. Bentley met Bertolt Brecht at UCLA as a young man and is considered one of the pre-eminent experts on Brecht, whose work he has translated. He edited the Grove Press issue of Brecht's work, and made two albums of Brecht songs for the legendary Folkways Records label, most of which had never been recorded in English before. In 1969, Bentley came out of the closet and declared his homosexuality. In an interview in the New York Times on 12 November 2006, he says he was married twice before coming out at age 53, and deciding, at the same time, to leave his post at Columbia to concentrate on his writing. He has stated his being gay as an influence on his theater work, especially his play Lord Alfred's Lover. He has written many critical books, including *A Century of Hero-Worship*, *The Playwright as Thinker*, *Bernard Shaw*, *What is Theatre?*, *The Life of the Drama*, *Theatre of War*, *Brecht Commentaries*, and *Thinking about the Playwright*. His most-produced play, *Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been*, published in 1972, was based on the transcripts collected in Thirty Years of treason.