From working as a textile buyer, to writing the nationally renowned Hobson’s Choice whilst stationed in the Air Military Intelligence staff during WWI, we look back at the illustrious career of Harold Brighouse on the 65th anniversary of his death.

Born in Eccles on 26 July 1882 (or 1880 according to RAF documents), Harold was the eldest child of a cotton-spinning firm manager, and a headmistress. After winning a scholarship to Manchester Grammar School, Brighouse moved to London to set up his office as a textile buyer.

At age 26, after marrying Emily lines in Leamington Spa, the pair moved up to Manchester, where he became a full-time writer.

His first play was ‘Lonesome Like’, but the first to be produced was ‘The Doorway’, which was performed in 1909 at Annie Horniman’s Gaiety Theatre in Manchester. Many of his plays were one-act pieces; three of these (‘The Northerners’, ‘Zack’ and ‘The Game’) were published together as ‘Three Lancashire Plays’ in 1920. All of these plays were set in Lancashire but Brighouse also wrote plays of a different type, such as ‘The Oak Settle’ and ‘Maid of France’.

It wasn’t until Harold was 33 that his acclaimed Salford-based play, Hobson’s Choice, hit the stage, on 1916 at the Apollo Theatre, London, where it ran for 246 performances. After being declared unfit for combat in WWI, he joined what later became the Royal Air Force, and was seconded to the Air Ministry Intelligence Staff, and wrote the play during his spare time in the position.

The play was made into a film three times: the first one was a silent movie in 1920, the second one was in 1931, and the third (the most famous) was in 1954, starring Charles Laughton, John Mills and Salford’s own Brenda de Banzie.

Aside from plays, Harold also wrote multiple novels, including ‘Hepplestalls’, concerning a Lancashire mill-owning family in the 19th century, and reviews for Manchester Guardian.

He was a member of the Dramatists’ Club and in 1930–31 was chairman of the Society of Authors’ dramatic committee.

On this day, in 1958, Harold Brighouse died, a day before his 76th birthday, after collapsing in The Strand a day prior.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *