Come and hear Roland Wales, author of the new, definitive biography, talk about the fascinating life of Esher playwright, Hollywood screenwriter and World War I hero, R. C. Sherriff.

From Journey’s End to The Dam Busters: The Life of R C Sherriff, Playwright of the Trenches

Saturday 4 February 2017, 2-3.30pm at Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking, GU21 6ND.

Tickets: £5.00, including refreshments

Roland will be selling signed copies of his book on the day, so if you would like to purchase one at the special price of £20, please bring cash or cheque.

Please book a place online at:, or in person at Surrey History Centre, any Surrey Library, or by phone Tel: 01483 518737.

Poster for a talk by Roland Wales, author of <em>From Journey's End to the Dam Busters: The life of R.C. Sherriff, Playwright of the Trenches</em>. Click on the image to see a larger pdf copy of the poster.</em>

Poster for a talk by Roland Wales,
author of From Journey’s End to the Dam Busters: The life of R.C. Sherriff, Playwright of the Trenches.
Click on the image to see a larger pdf copy of the poster.


R C Sherriff was propelled to fame by the worldwide success of his First World War play, Journey’s End in 1929. The success of the play allowed him to become a full time writer, and for the next thirty years he was one of the most famous writers in Britain. While he was never ranked among the literary titans, he wrote about ordinary people and their everyday lives with great empathy and compassion. His dramas were seen as perceptive and truthful; his three 1930s novels (The Fortnight in September, Greengates and The Hopkins Manuscript) won sweeping praise for their honest examination of the lives of the English middle-class; and his name on a film (such as The Invisible Man, Goodbye, Mr Chips, The Four Feathers, Odd Man Out, Quartet and The Dam Busters) was seen as an absolute guarantor of quality.

Despite his continuing success, no comprehensive account of his life was ever written -and yet it was a life filled with incident: his fraught experiences in the trenches on the Western Front; the overnight success of Journey’s End, which took him to Broadway and all around the capitals of Europe; his experiences in the early days of the ‘Talkies’ in Hollywood; his tussles with the movie censors, and with the Nazis who sought to destroy his scripts; his years in Hollywood during WW2, when he was both chastised as a ‘shirker’, yet also wrote Churchill’s favourite film (Lady Hamilton); and a stream of plays and movies in the 40s and 50s, culminating in The Dam Busters, which prompted the Guardian critic to comment that he had found ‘the right dramatic dialogue for the men of 1939-45, as well as those of 1914-1918’.

In this illustrated talk, Sherriff’s biographer, Roland Wales, will examine the life and career of the modest Esher man who became one of Britain’s most successful playwrights and screenwriters.


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