Harold Pinter

The playwright Harold Pinter has died, and the tributes are pouring in, as tributes are wont to do. But when I think of Pinter I always recall a story I heard some years ago. Pinter, who made a good deal of money from his writing, was for a long time a significant financial backer of the Comedy Theatre in London. Eventually he thought that he should receive some public recognition for his generosity, in the form of having the theatre renamed: the Pinter Theatre. Supposedly he was quite strenuous in insisting on this change, but the owners were equally strenuous in declining the offer. The disagreement became quite heated, and in the middle of it all, Tom Stoppard wrote to Pinter and asked, “Have you considered that it might be simpler if you changed your name to Harold Comedy?”