Personalities | William Plomer | Modern Era | Opera
1903–73, South African-British
A man of letters who wrote poems, novels, short stories, essays and opera librettos, Plomer scandalized his native country when, at age 22, his novel Turbott Wolfe (1925) denounced South Africa’s racist domestic policies. Born to English parents, and spurred by his love of literature and travel, he settled in England where, as a boy, he had received his formal education. While Plomer’s travels inspired a number of books, his poetry expressed his geopolitical views, and after these talents came to the attention of Benjamin Britten the two men collaborated on Gloriana, an opera celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Thereafter, they joined forces on a trio of parable-related works: Curlew River (1964) was modelled after a Japanese Nō play; The Burning Fiery Furnace (1966) was from the Old Testament; and The Prodigal Son (1968) was a parable from the New Testament.
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