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Alan Bennett: Parents would have been distressed about my sexuality

Published 31/10/2015

The Lady In The Van has been adapted from Alan Bennett's memoirs
The Lady In The Van has been adapted from Alan Bennett's memoirs

Playwright Alan Bennett has revealed he never told his parents he was gay because he "just didn't see the point of that".

Bennett, 81, who is in a 23-year relationship with World Of Interiors editor Rupert Thomas, believes learning about his sexuality would have been painful for his late parents Lilian and Walter.

He told the Guardian Weekend magazine: "It would have distressed both of them. People talk about coming out to their parents, and I just didn't see the point of that.

"In my case, coming out about what? Nothing was happening - I might be gay, but I didn't have a partner or anything, so there was no point."

His decade-long relationship with Anne Davies "started off just as a fling, really, but we became very fond of each other," he recalled. She died in 2009.

Bennett told the Guardian Weekend magazine: "She overlapped with Rupert and so it ended, and then she came to Yorkshire and lived next door.

"To begin with, not surprisingly, she didn't get on with Rupert, but then she became ill and she became closer to Rupert than she was to me, really."

He describes her as being "very beautiful" and he liked the fact that onlookers were unsure about him. "I think I probably got some satisfaction from thinking, 'Well, everyone assumes I am gay.'"

Leeds-born Bennett penned The Madness of George III (1991) and The History Boys (2004), both of which were made into films. His Talking Heads series of monologues for television helped to turn him into a household name, along with his popular memoirs and audio books.

The screenwriter, author and actor now has a clutch of film, theatre, television and book awards spanning a career which began with the Beyond the Fringe satirical revue at the 1960 Edinburgh Festival, which brought him instant fame.

His latest film - The Lady In The Van, starring Dame Maggie Smith - is adapted from his memoirs. It tells the true story of the relationship he developed with Mary Shepherd, who parked her van in the driveway of his former home in north London in 1974 and went on to live there for 15 years.

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