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British Playwright Peter Shaffer Dies at 90

Sir Peter Shaffer, the man behind the psychologically twisting plays Equus and Amadeus, died yesterday at a hospice outside CorkIreland. He was 90.

The writer, whose career spanned more than 18 plays and several adaptations, “passed away peacefully,” his agent, Rupert Lord, reported. Lord also told The Guardian that Shaffer “was simply at the end of his life but delighted to have been able to celebrate his 90th birthday with friends and then, I think, decided it was time.”

Even if you don’t recognize his name instantly, there’s a chance you’ve been touched by his works. The 1984 film adaptation of his play Amadeus, a tense drama about the rivalry between composers W.A. Mozart and Antonio Salieri, won eight Oscars in 1985, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Shaffer. In 2007, Daniel Radcliffe famously broke his Harry Potter mold by leading a a revival of Shaffer’s play Equus, about a young man’s disturbing, violent obsession with horses.

Many in the theatre community and beyond have been offering their condolences:

Sir Shaffer, knighted in 2001, stands out as not only a playwright but as a writer because of his sensitivity to how the words and stories were presented. He treated the speakers and audiences of his words with respect and intelligence, much like any great author or painter. As one of his famous quotes goes, “art and literature are my surrogate religions.”

Featured image courtesy of Mike Lawn / Berliner Morgenpost