The Terence Rattigan Society held its annual birthday dinner to mark what would have been Rattigan’s 107th birthday on Tuesday 10th June and I was privileged to be invited as a guest. The event took place at the Oxford and Cambridge Club on Pall Mall – Rattigan was an alumnus of Trinity College, Oxford.
The evening was marked by the formal appointment of Julian Fellowes as a Vice President of the Society – he holds an equivalent position in the Trollope Society and featured a special guest speaker Professor John Bertolini, the Ellis Professor of English and Liberal Arts at Middlebury College in Vermont.
Professor Bertolini spoke movingly of the fluctuations in the critical reception by students of Rattigan as a playwright throughout his long career. He had seen Rattigan all but dismissed in decades past as “weak tea” but in recent years had seen a resurgence of interest in his plays with a recognition of the powerful yet understated emotions of his characters that gives his works an authenticity lacking in more exaggerated roles that had previously found favour with his students.