Bill Naughton

Playwright and Dramatist

Bill Naughton
Bolton Abbey
BBC Logo
Ballasalla, Isle of Man
Cloister Rushen Abbey, Isle of Man.
Coast of Isle of Man with Port Erin.
Kenny /Naughton Centr
Ann Cresham Collection

Playwright / Dramatist

This man was a talented & a successful playwright also a novelist who is remembered in Co. Mayo  further afield today.  A short story competition is administered by the Kenny / Naughton Society to honour him is held annually in his native Aughamore in Co. Mayo.  [i]

This labourer turned world playwright & author Bill Naughton (William John Francis) was born on 10th June 1910 in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo.  His father was from Carrowkeel, Ballyhaunis, his mother (nee Fleming) from Tubber. [ii]

Bill Naughton was born in Ballyhaunis, Ireland:


During 1914 Bill with his family moved to Bolton, Lancashire, England.  He attended Saint Peter & Paul’s School. [iii]

Bill Naughton with his family moved to Bolton, Lancashire, England, where he attended Saint Peter &Paul’s School:


On completion of his education he was employed in various positions such as a coal-bagger also weaver.  During WW2 Bill Naughton joined a Civil Defence Unit as a driver. [iv]

Bill Naughton was employed as a weaver, coal-bagger also lorry-driver:


His first wife was Nan Wilson & they had three children.  When the marriage broke up, (she remarried twice)  Bill Naughton remarried Austrian born Erna Pirot who was wife, nurse, also guardian of his literary legacy later in life. (Paul Rogers January 6th 2015)  [v]

Nan Naughton’s demise occurred in September 2014. [vi]


Bill Naughton produced several successful novels & plays with children’s books among them his first publication was A Roof Over Your Head  in 1945. [vii]

Other publications included One Small Boy  1957  &  All In Good Time  1964.   His Spring and Port Wine  was staged at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton Theatre during 1965 (the first of several of his plays)  He published an autobiographical trilogy On the Pig’s Back.  Then during 1987 an autobiographical excursion Saintly Billy, A Catholic Boyhood.   In 1988 Neither Use nor Ornament A Memoir of Bolton  from 1920’s was penned during 1995.  Bill Naughton’s Alfie was made into a film.  He wrote for the humorous Magazine ‘Lilliput.’  (Clenn Collins January 11th 1992) [viii]

He penned several plays & short stories: most famous of which is Alfie (1963), which was made into two films:

B. B. C.

Bill Naughton worked for the Television industry by contributing short stories & plays.  His play June Evening was televised by the B.B.C. during July 1960: nine months previous to the first edition of ‘Coronation Street.’ [ix]


Bill Naughton won several awards: Screen Writers Guide Award 1967/1968, Prixitalia Prize for Radio Play, The Mystery during 1974, Portico Literary Award in 1987, Children’s Rights Workshop Award 1988, The Hon. Fellowship also the Bolton Institute Higher Education in 1988  [x]

Isle of Man

He sold the rights to Alfie  then he & Erna moved to Ballasalla in the Isle of Man.  Bill Naughton’s autobiographical trilogy was written while he was in his 70’s: as an insightful humorous look at life, the last entitled Neither Use nor Ornament; A Memoir of Bolton  during 1995. [xi]


Bill Naughton’s demise occurred on January 9th 1992 when he was aged eighty-one.  He is buried at Rushen, near Port Erin on the Isle of Man.  His wife Erna acted as patron of the Kenny / Naughton Autumn School in Aughamore, Co. Mayo until her demise in September 2014. [xii]

His demise occurred in 1992 in Ballasalla on the Isle of Man:


During July 2002 Bolton Council successfully purchased the Bill Naughton Archive that was offered for sale by Sotheby’s for 80,000 with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Friends of the National Libraries, the Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent also the Bolton Institute. The Council provided funds for the cataloguing also the conservation of his material. [xiii]

An eighty-five seated adaptable studio within the Octagon Theatre is named after Bill Naughton.  His novels & plays feature on British school curricula. [xiv]

The Kenny / Naughton Autumn School in Aughamore, Co. Mayo host a Short Story Competition annually in his honour. (Collins [xv]

Further Information

Bill Naughton is referenced on this site:

Bill Naughton is referenced on this link:

This may be of interest:

David Pierce on 15th March 2015 referenced the Irish themes in Bill Naughton’s writings at this link:

January 1962 Bill Naughton  Erna Naughton (née Pirolt) by Colin O’Brien a bromide print NPG x131763 may be viewed at this site:

In his column Auld Stock  Johnny Mee’s article in The Connacht Telegraph’  8th September 2020 he remembered Bill Naughton as ‘A proud Son of Ballyhaunis.’ (page 26)  He was described by those who had known him as ‘an unassuming gentleman who never forgot his Irish roots or Ballyhaunis, he was proud of his birthplace.’


[i] – Naughton Society /

[ii]  Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ibid

[v] The Mayo News

[vi] – Naughton Society




[x] – Naughton Society







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