Much of Alan Bennett’s career as a playwright, screenwriter, author and actor been devoted to wry or gently comic emotional cripples, inhabiting worlds where happiness is as suspect (very) as it is unlikely (highly) and where unrequited love is a redundancy. His best known works are the adaptation of Prick Up Your Ears (gay playwright Joe Orton murdered by his lover), An Englishman Abroad (gay traitor Guy Burgess), The Madness of George III (crazy king), A Question of Attribution (another gay traitor, Anthony Blunt), and of course The History Boys. In 2011 reader Gary reminded me about Bennett's highly successful series of humorous and touching monologues, Talking Heads, which can be seen online. (Lovingly spoofed by Stephen Fry in drag.) The son of a Northern butcher, Bennett was accepted at Cambridge but, following a boy who didn’t like him, switched to Oxford where he took a first in history and, in 1960, joined Dudley Moore, Peter Cook, and Jonathan Miller to appear in the instantly famous comedy revue Beyond the Fringe. He also performed in The Secret Policeman’s Ball and The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball. Although he has been with his current partner, Rupert Thomas, for nearly 20 years, only recently has he felt comfortable discussing his gay life. And he's begun to create unqualified delights, such as the one even Michiko called “a completely charming entertainment: a small gem,” his novella The Clothes They Stood Up In, about a middle-aged married couple who return from the theatre to discover their flat has been robbed of absolutely everything, down to their last thumbtack and thimble. His hugely praised novella The Uncommon Reader, about the Queen's newfound love of literature thanks to a gay teenager, is a slender perfection. Since then he's published a memoir about his parents, A Life Like Other People's, and a pair of gay-inclusive tales in a short book wittily titled Smut [Kindle]. The same week that the British Library paid half a million pounds for Ted Hughes' papers, Bennett announced he is donating all his papers -- including decades of diaries and unpublished manuscripts -- to Oxford's Bodleian Library, in gratitude for his state scholarship.