Biographical Preface


English 12


4 April 1997


On July third of nineteen thirty seven, in Zlin, Czechoslovakia, a boy was born by the name of Tomas Straussler. Tomas was born onto Eugene Straussler and Martha Stoppard. Later in his life Tomas took his mother’s last name and shortened his first name to Tom. His father was a physician. When his father was killed by the Nazis the rest of the family fled to the far East. Tom went to school in Darjeeling, India. There his mother met a British officer whom she soon married. They moved to England, where Tom went to a preparatory school. Stoppard won minor prizes and later went to Berlin for farther appreciation of his work. Here his first real play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, was performed on stage. He was educated mainly in England, and also in other European countries so his writing is influenced by all the movements in European politics and literature of his life time. He is a playwright and a novelist, a radio and a television script writer, and a reporter and a critic. Stoppard jumped from one thing to the next, when it came to jobs.



From nineteen fifty four to nineteen fifty eight he worked as a reporter and a critic for Western Daily Press, in Bristol, England. From nineteen fifty eight to nineteen sixty he worked as a reporter in the Evening World, also in Bristol. After this and until nineteen sixty three, he was employed as a free-lance reporter. In nineteen seventy three, in London, he directed the play Born Yesterday. After many awards and nominations, Tom was named a member of the Royal National Theatre Board in nineteen eighty nine. In nineteen ninety one, he directed his first movie, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dread, based on his own play which earlier in his life brought him so much success on stage.


Stoppard has been married twice. He was married to his first wife from nineteen sixty five to nineteen seventy two when they got divorced. As a result of this marriage he has two children, Oliver and Barnaby. His second wife was a physician, Miriam Moore-Robinson whom he married in nineteen seventy two. They are currently separated and have, two sons. Today, Tom Stoppard is sixty years old and is still an active contributor to the world of drama.




The twentieth century has become a whirling chaos of ideas and movements, making up in itself the post modernist era. With the flow of life being sped up by the intervention of technology, the thinking man has become skeptical and even bitter. Two world wars, nuclear warfare, the rise and the fall of communism, the end of imperialism in Europe, Fascism and many other factors make up what is known as the modern times. In the midst of all this confusion, there emerged a movement in modern drama that brought out the ridiculous and made it seem, not only feasible, but also reasonable. This movement illustrated life in the twentieth century to be meaningless, and man is so detached from his religious and philosophical roots, and the world around him is strange and cold. This is now referred to as the Absurdist movement. To illustrate its points, the authors of absurdist drama often use fantasy, inconsistencies and tiresome repetitions to demonstrate the ludicrousness of life. This movement, although at its peak in the English speaking world, has also become quite popular in all of Europe. Tom Stoppard is the man best known for this style and technique and his virtuosity in it. He has been a favorite, working his charms on stage and on screen since the late sixties. This was when he caught the wave of success with his twist on Einstein’s discovery of the theory of relativity. Stoppard’s works suggest the relativity of all points of view to each other, whether in their righteousness or atrocity. In his attempts to exemplify the meaning of destiny in the life of the twentieth century man, with this theory of relativity and with his wide use of fantasy, preposterousness, humor, sentiment and theatrical innovation, Tom Stoppard fits perfectly into the absurdist category of the post modern era; as seen in such plays as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Jumpers.



The Tom Stoppard style