Playwright Anthony "Sleuth" Shaffer Dies, Aged 75Date: 7 November 2001
Born in Liverpool on 15 May 1926, Anthony Shaffer first worked as a coalminer before training as a lawyer and then moving into journalism. In the 1950s, he and his twin brother Peter Shaffer collaborated on several detective novels. The brothers later branched out separately into stage and screen writing, both establishing formidable reputations.
Anthony Shaffer is still best known to theatregoers for his whodunnit Sleuth about a crime writer who becomes wrapped up in a real cat and mouse game with his handsome new neighbour. The two act out their ingenious detective plots on one another as fiction blurs with reality.
The original 1970 production of Sleuth was a success on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1972, it was made into a major film starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. Still regularly staged, Sleuth received its last major UK tour in 1999, with Peter Bowles and Michael Maloney in the leads.
Anthony Shaffer’s other plays include Murderer, Whodunnit and The Savage Pride. He also found success with his film work, most notably The Wicker Man, for which he always hoped to make a sequel. Amongst his other screenplays were Evil Under the Sun, Death on the Nile, Appointment with Death, Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy and the film adaptation of Sleuth.
Peter Shaffer, the author of Equus, Black Comedy and Amadeus, continues to write for the stage. He is currently working on a play about brothers Pyotr and Modest Tchaikovsky. Anthony Shaffer's memoirs, So What Did You Expect, will be published later this month by Picador.
- by Terri Paddock