Drawing: Michael Frayn

Autographed drawing of writer Michael Frayn

Another one of my favourite writers is British novelist, playwright and screenwriter Michael Frayn. Known for his plays such as DONKEYS’YEARS, NOISES OFF, (both Olivier Award winners), COPENHAGEN (Tony Award) and DEMOCRACY, his novels HEADLONG
(shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize) and SPIES (Commonwealth Writers Prize), Michael has also written screenplays, including CLOCKWISE with John Cleese.

After two years National Service, during which he learnt Russian, Michael read Moral Sciences (Philosophy) at Emmanuel College Cambridge, graduating in 1957. He became a reporter and columnist for The Guardian and The Observer newspapers and began writing plays and novels. He is also considered one of Britain’s finest translators of renowned Russian writer Anton Chekov’s work, THE SEAGULL, UNCLE VANYA and THE CHERRY ORCHARD to name a few.

When I sent Michael this sketch, I mistakenly Knighted him. He returned it, signed with an accompanying note, thanking me and saying it was “better than the original” then correcting my error, “I’m not a sir, though.” I quickly erased the evidence on my not sir Michael Frayn portrait. An even quicker and belated Google search informed me he had turned down a knighthood in 2003, stating that he liked the name ‘Michael Frayn… it’s a nice little name to run around with. I’ve spent 70 years getting used to it and I don’t want to change it now.’ It seems to be a common thing with writers – Alan Bennett, Harold Pinter, George Bernard Shaw, E.M.Forster and Rudyard Kipling – not wanting extra letters in their names.