World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Martin Esslin

Martin Julius Esslin
Born Julius Pereszlényi
Hungarian: Pereszlényi Gyula Márton

(1918-06-06)6 June 1918
Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died 24 February 2002(2002-02-24) (aged 83)
London, England, UK
Education University of Vienna
Reinhardt Seminar
Occupation Theatre critic; scholar
Notable work The Theatre of the Absurd

Martin Julius Esslin OBE (6 June 1918 – 24 February 2002) was a Hungarian-born English producer, dramatist, journalist, adaptor and translator, critic, academic scholar and professor of drama, best known for coining the term "Theatre of the Absurd" in his work of the same name (Theatre of the Absurd; 1961). This work has been called "the most influential theatrical text of the 1960s" by some reviewers.[1]


  • Life and work 1
  • Death 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Life and work

Born Pereszlényi Gyula Márton in Budapest, Esslin moved to Vienna with his family at a young age. He studied Philosophy and English at the University of Vienna and graduated from the Reinhardt Seminar as a producer; actor Milo Sperber was a classmate. Of Jewish descent, he fled Austria in the wake of the Anschluss of 1938.[2]

He defined the "Theatre of the Absurd" as follows:

This attribute of "absurdity" was not accepted by many of the playwrights associated with this trend. Ionesco stated that he did not like labels.[3] Ahmad Kamyabi Mask criticized Esslin for a purported "colonialist" quality of this title for the Avant-garde theater.[4][5]

He began working for the BBC in 1940, serving as a producer, script writer and broadcaster. He headed BBC Radio Drama from 1963–77, having previously worked for the external European Service. After leaving the BBC he held senior academic posts at Florida State University and Stanford University.[2]

He adapted and translated many works from the original German, for example many plays of Wolfgang Bauer between 1967 and 1990. Original works included Theatre of the Absurd, and The Field of Drama.[2]


Esslin died in London on 24 February 2002 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, aged 83.[2][6]


  1. ^ John Calder (27 February 2002). "Illuminating writer and radio drama producer".  
  2. ^ a b c d obituaryGuardian, 27 February 2002; accessed 11 August 2014.
  3. ^ Ionesco rejects Esslin's label,; accessed 11 August 2014.
  4. ^ by Ahmad Kamyabi Mask,; accessed 11 August 2014.
  5. ^ profile,; accessed 11 August 2014.
  6. ^ Sanford, John (6 March 2002). "Martin Esslin, drama professor and theater critic, dies". The Stanford Report. Stanford News Archive. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 

External links

  • Memorial Resolution (Stanford University, 2004)
  • Esslin's radio work,; accessed 11 August 2014.

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.