Bill Naughton

Playwright and Dramatist

Bill Naughton
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Ballasalla, Isle of Man
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Cloister Rushen Abbey, Isle of Man.
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Coast of Isle of Man with Port Erin.
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Kenny /Naughton Centr
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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 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]

Emigration

His family emigrated to Bolton, Lancashire, England during 1914.  He attended school at St. Peter & St. Paul’s in Bolton. [iii]

Employment

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

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

Her demise occurred in September 2014. [vi]

Publications

Bill Naughton wrote many successful Novels & Plays with Children’s books among them His first publication was ; ‘A Roof Over Your Head’ 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 in 1965 (the first of several of his plays)  He published an Autobiographical Trilogy, ‘On the Pig’s Back,’ an Autobiographical Excursion 1987 ‘Saintly Billy, A Catholic Boyhood.’ In 1988  also ‘Neither Use nor Ornament A Memoir of Bolton’ from 1920’s during 1995.  His work ‘Alfie’ was made into a film.  He wrote for the humorous Magazine ‘Lilliput.’  (Clenn Collins January 11th 1992) [viii]

B. B. C.

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

Awards

Bill Naughton won several awards: Screen writes 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.  Written while he was in his 70’s was an insightful humorous look at life, the last entitled ‘Neither Use nor Ornament; A Memoir of Bolton’ during 1995. [xi]

Demise

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]

Legacy

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]

There is an eighty- five seated adaptable Studio within the Octagon Theatre 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. (Clenn Collins  January 11th 1992[xv]

Footnote

In his column ‘Auld Stock’ on Johnny Mee’s article in ‘The Connacht Telegraph’ 8th September 2020 page 26 he remembered Bill Naughton as ‘A Proud Son of Ballyhaunis.’  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.’

Bibliography

[i] www.aughamoreireland.com – Naughton Society

[ii]  Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ibid.

[v] The Mayo News’

[vi] www.aughamoreireland.com – Naughton Society

[vii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Naughton

[viii] ‘New York Times’

[ix] https://writingbolton.com/locations/bill-naughton-and-the-mass-observation-project

[x] www.aughamoreireland.com – Naughton Society

[xi] https://writingbolton.com/locations/bill-naughton-and-the-mass-observation-project

[xii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Naughton

[xiii] https://writingbolton.com/locations/bill-naughton-and-the-mass-observation-project

[xiv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Naughton

[xv] New York Times’

 

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