Shelagh Delaney, about 1959

Shelagh Delaney, about 1959

Shelagh Delaney, a working class girl from Salford in Lancashire, made her name with her play 'A Taste of Honey' which she wrote in 1957 aged 18. The play deals with a whole range of social issues that were taboo in the 1950s. The teenage Jo has an affair with a black sailor, becomes pregnant while unmarried and moves in with a homosexual friend, Geoffrey, who looks after her.

Delaney loved theatre but was bored by the blandness of plays by and about middle class people. She also objected to the portrayal of Northerners as 'gormless'. She sent her play to Joan Littlewood who staged it in 1958 in Stratford, East London. Plays about working class people were still not common in mainstream theatre, and John Osbourne's groundbreaking 'Look Back in Anger' had been produced only two years earlier.