The History Boys by Alan Bennett
A Play

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Synopsis

"A play of depth as well as dazzle, intensely moving as well as thought-provoking and funny." --The Daily Telegraph

An unruly bunch of bright, funny sixth-form (or senior) boys in a British boys' school are, as such boys will be, in pursuit of sex, sport, and a place at a good university, generally in that order. In all their efforts, they are helped and hindered, enlightened and bemused, by a maverick English teacher who seeks to broaden their horizons in sometimes undefined ways, and a young history teacher who questions the methods, as well as the aim, of their schooling. In The History Boys, Alan Bennett evokes the special period and place that the sixth form represents in an English boy's life. In doing so, he raises--with gentle wit and pitch-perfect command of character--not only universal questions about the nature of history and how it is taught but also questions about the purpose of education today.

 

About Alan Bennett

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Alan Bennett is a renowned playwright and essayist whose screenplay for The Madness of King George was nominated for an Academy Award. He lives in London, England.
 
Published April 4, 2006 by Faber & Faber. 109 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography, Action & Adventure. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The History Boys

BC Books

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The History Boys is a highly touted, award-winning play about a British public school (what is called a private school in the US), the students who attend and are trying to get into Oxford, and their various teachers.

Nov 27 2007 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

The Wall Street Journal

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It's rare for me to have such sharply mixed feelings about a play as I had about Alan Bennett's "The History Boys" when I first saw it on Broadway in 2006 -- so mixed, in fact, that I came away not knowing whether I really liked what I'd seen, impressed though I was by Nicholas Hytner's direction...

May 08 2009 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

AV Club

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It's a strange sign of the times that three of cinema's best, most committed teachers can currently be seen smoking crack in a bathroom (Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson), lustily squeezing a teenaged student's thigh (Richard Griffiths in History Boys), and seriously contemplating oral sex with a priz...

Dec 14 2006 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

Entertainment Weekly

And though Frances de la Tour — delectable as the tart-tongued instructor Mrs. Lintott — gets trotted out by Bennett a tad too often to light the play's grimmest corners, she's a marvel of drollery.

Jun 02 2006 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

The Telegraph

... 19 October 2005[Arts]: Masterclass in wonderful acting [review of Heroes] ... 19
May 2004[Arts]: School's back with Bennett at his best [review of The History Boys
] ... Trey Parker and Matt Stone's musical The Book of Mormon...

Oct 31 2005 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

Suite 101

The History Boys by Alan Bennett has long been lauded as one of Bennett's best plays, but there were doubts that this seminal piece of British theatre could be successfully adapted to work as a gay interest film, even under the guidance of original director Nicholas Hytner, and with the original ...

May 14 2009 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

San Francisco Chronicle

His "History" springs to life most often in the classroom scenes - in the intellectual high jinks of the students vying for Hector's approval in poetry and song or trying to stump him with old film scenes, or coping with the moral ramifications of Irwin's approach.

Sep 30 2008 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

The Seattle Times

It's hard to find another play that's as thoughtful, funny and well-constructed as "The History Boys."

Mar 13 2009 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

Oregon Live

In "The History Boys," a complex and deeply disturbing drama by English playwright Alan Bennett, which opened over the weekend at Artists Repertory Theatre, that subjectivity plays out in the classrooms of a boys prep school, where two teachers engage in a war of wills over different philosophies...

May 05 2008 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

The Columbus Dispatch

Louie Anderson has made a splash for more than three decades.

Jan 12 2013 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

The Columbus Dispatch

Louie Anderson has made a splash for more than three decades.

Jan 11 2013 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

The Sydney Morning Herald

After the success of The History Boys as a play, writer Alan Bennett and director Nicholas Hytner collaborated on this film adaptation, as they did on another of Bennett's plays, The Madness Of King George, which scored an Oscar in 1995.

Nov 19 2007 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

PopMatters

—Mrs. Lintott (Frances de la Tour), The History Boy This low-budget British curio unimaginatively transposes the acclaimed 2004 stage production to the more realistic environs of an educational-setting captured for the screen.

May 01 2007 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

The Sydney Morning Herald

As for Hector, he, too, is an invention - born out of sessions Bennett spent enviously listening to the reminiscences of fellow undergraduates who had been to posher schools.

May 05 2007 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

Daily Kos

As much as anger as I sometimes feel for those clueless fools - as much anger as I feel over the actions of these sadistic leaders - NOTHING compares to the anger I feel about their horrifyingly successful Assault On Reason, their systematic efforts to destroy the human mind’s ability to distingu...

Jun 14 2007 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

London Review of Books

And droll though these misgivings seem, then they were more real than any worries about the examination itself and they persisted long after examinations were over, my social and class self-consciousness not entirely shed until long after my education proper was finished.

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Monsters and Critics

In the eccentric, non-linear education path lies Hector (Richard Griffiths), teaching under the guise of the admittedly broad general studies badge, where his teaching style provokes an atmosphere of free-flowing, free-thinking passions – his passions consisting of poetry, mostly Auden’s, and mus...

Apr 16 2007 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

Time Out New York

There’s something of Joe Orton about ‘The History Boys’, the play by Alan Bennett which makes the transfer from stage to screen with its original director, National Theatre’s Nicholas Hytner, in tow, and both cast and script intact, give or take the odd character, new scene and cinematic flourish...

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New York Magazine

I t’s going to be impossible for me to write about the film of Alan Bennett’s elegiac yet rambunctious schoolboy drama The History Boys without (a) burbling about the power of the arts (and their teachers) to enliven our coarse and dreary existence and (b) falling into wishful British cadences.

Oct 25 2007 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

Metro

Start with simple patterns and projects and work your way up – if you start with something too ambitious you're…

Mar 06 2007 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

Broad Street Review

BY: Jim Rutter 10.06.2009 Beyond an exceptional acting ensemble, in The History Boys the Arden stages a sharp intellectual prep-school drama that cuts to the core of if, how...

Oct 06 2009 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

The Paris Review

Most of the short stories I’ve written have started off because they wouldn’t turn into plays, and certainly the first one in this book, “The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson,” has quite a theatrical beginning.

Jan 10 2012 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

Crikey

But while this play reinvigorates these debates and generates a little friction, I’m not sure it leaves us with any lessons, buoyancy, or determination, to engage with the subjects in any really new or profitable ways.

Dec 02 2010 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

Crikey

Peach Theatre Company’s production of British comic playwright Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, currently playing in The Playhouse at the Sydney Opera House is bound to be a hit.

Feb 21 2013 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

John Baker's Blog

If the artist does not fling himself, without reflecting, into his work, as Curtis flung himself into the yawning gulf, as the soldier flings himself into the enemy's trenches, and if, once in this crater, he does not work like a miner on whom the walls of his gallery have fallen in;

Nov 27 2006 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

Talkin' Broadway

Alan Bennett's The History Boys isn't suitable to everyone's taste.

Oct 09 2009 | Read Full Review of The History Boys: A Play

Reader Rating for The History Boys
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