Willy Russell

Willy Russell (Playwright, Educating Rita.) was born in Whiston, near Liverpool, U.K.,in 1947. He left school when he was fifteen and became a ladies hairdresser for six years,but he left to do a variety of jobs, including stacking stockings in a warehouse and cleaning girders in a car factory. He also began writing and composing folk songs and performing at clubs and concerts. Around this time, he decided to complete his education. He went to college, became a school teacher,and as he became more interested in drama, he began to write. 

His first plays were produced in the early 1970s as part of a student production at St. Katharine’s College in Liverpool and later taken to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His subsequent plays include a couple of pieces written for BBC TV. In 1974, he wrote his first major success, the musical John, Paul, George, Ringo ... and Bert, which won the Evening Standard and London’s Critics Awards for Best Musical and launched two national tours. His next major works in the 1970s include Breezeblock Park, Our Day Out (presented on BBC), One for the Road, and Stags and Hens

In 1979, he wrote Educating Rita, which was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The play won many awards, including the Society of West End Theatre Award (SWET Award – now called the Olivier Award) for Best Comedy, and ran for the next three years, followed by two highly successful national tours. The following year, he was honored with an Academy Award nomination for writing the screenplay for the film, which starred Michael Caine and Julie Walters. In 1983, he wrote the award-winning musical Blood Brothers, a bigs uccess in London which eventually opened on Broadway ten years later. In 1988, he wrote the play Shirley Valentine, winner of the Olivier Award for Best Comedy, which transferred to Broadway the following year, and he also wrote the screenplay for the feature film. 

In 2000, his first novel, The Wrong Boy, was published. He currently lives in Liverpool and is working on a number of projects.

August, 2008