Belfast Telegraph

Stand aside, David Beckham — now Samuel Beckett is turning heads

(... and you could soon be sporting the literary giant’s hairstyle too)

By Jane Hardy

He has inspired generations of writers with his dark humour and finely crafted words.

But is revered Irish writer Samuel Beckett about to become the inspiration behind a new hairstyle craze?

First there was ‘the Beckham’ — and now there’s the Beckett barnet, a copy of his trademark coiffed yet slightly unruly hair that is threatening to catch on.

You could make a pretty good argument for calling the Dublin-born playwright — who was educated at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen — one of our true 20th century celebrities.

Certainly Sean Doran and the team behind the inaugural Happy Days Festival — which runs from August 23-27 in Enniskillen and celebrates everything ‘Beckettian’ — think so.

What’s more, in their programme of plays, music and quirky events in and around Co Fermanagh, they’re promoting all aspects of the chap. Including his hairstyle.

For just £6 any male or female Beckett fans can walk out of Headhunters in Enniskillen with his coiffure.

While it hasn’t been specified, you’d imagine a generous head of hair is required to pull the look off really well. Not only did the Nobel Prize for Literature winner write clever plays in French, live in Paris, have as his muses some of the greatest beauties on the theatrical scene — such as the actress Billie Whitelaw — and embody fashionably nihilistic ideas, he also looked the business.

With his round specs and slightly retro 1950s spiky hair, he was visibly — to quote from the late Tony Hancock’s great movie The Rebel — “one of Jean Paul Sartre’s mob”.

You could, I suppose, call it geek chic, but this rough coiffure, which revealed the bony landscape of Beckett’s face, was iconic in its day. The novelist looked studious as a young lad — and he was — but he looked increasingly Mount Rushmore as he entered his sixties and seventies.

Photographed by the best, painted by the late Dublin artist Louis le Brocquy as a haircut and scowl floating in a sea of white, Beckett seems to have been pretty relaxed about his look.

Of course, the poet had quite a few things to say about beauty.

He once noted disingenuously: “I had seen faces in photographs I might have found beautiful had I known even vaguely in what beauty was supposed to consist.

“And my father’s face, on his death-bolster, had seemed to hint at some form of aesthetics relevant to man.”

Then, typically, he spoilt it all with a bit of negativity.

With Beckett, who died in 1989, you always get the darkness with the enlightenment.

But what we really want to know is will the Beckett barnet or the SB quiff catch on at our salons?

For more information on the Samuel Beckett festival, visit

Does his style make the cut? Here's what the experts have to say ...

Samantha Mekki (40s) owner of Alex Mekki salon, Belfast

Samuel Beckett looks a bit dishevelled to me in his famous photos. Having said that, I like men to look a bit rough so yes, I would go out with someone with this haircut.

In terms of technique, you’d maybe use thinning scissors to create more texture and he probably finished it off with a 1950s product like Black and White wax.

To carry off this haircut — which isn’t a million miles from some of the cuts we do for men today — you’d need the right clothes to achieve the elder statesman look.

Yes, it could catch on.

Malachy Weatherall (33) creative director hair traffic, Belfast

I can see Beckett had a face that was full of character, a real road map of his life. And his haircut — to get technical — is a short gradient swept back. His hair was very straight and thickish so it spiked up well.

We’re doing quite a lot of similar cuts for men now, and I’ve just decided to go longer on top and get my sides shaved.

It is cool — you only have to think of David Beckham who has something similar but a bit longer on top. In our salon, it would cost from £8, done by a student from the training school, to £18.40 done by me. Definitely worth it if you ended up looking like Samuel Beckett.

Peter Casey (56) proprietor of peter maud salon, Belfast

The Samuel Beckett haircut at that time was rather severe, cropped in the side and longer at the top. It was very much the Irish playwright image.

If you look at all Beckett’s haircuts and the current Beckham look, you’ll see they’re both a take on the Fifties and a take on conservatism. I’ve had all the looks from Ziggy Stardust onwards and did have a Beckett style cut. To do it properly, it’s not easy — even though this looks like an unkempt look. You need to know where to stop cutting. He probably used Brylcreem and oil, although now we use mud clays. I think it’s a great look for young people.

Suzan Manning (38) director of ZUNI salon, Belfast

Depending on which Beckett era you look at, I’d say his haircut is a classic gent’s cut, pretty groomed.

There are younger guys wearing this look now. Andrew Garfield is a good example — he’s the star of the new Spiderman movie and he’s on the front cover of GQ magazine this month.

It’s an easy look to achieve, but you have to be well endowed on the hair front, which Samuel Beckett certainly was.

Would I go out with someone with this kind of hair? I already do as my partner has a rougher version of this look.

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