Who done ‘Whodunnit’?

A look at Anthony Shaffer, the author of ‘Whodunnit’

British playwright Anthony Shaffer, author of the original stage and film versions of Sleuth, cult horror The Wicker Man and Hitchcock’s suspense thriller Frenzy is one of the most influential and inspiring dramatists of modern times.  Combining his love of the murder-mystery genre and games playing, Shaffer forged a unique writing style of his own.  Throughout his work lurks a menacing pattern of psychological teasing of his audiences by means of intricate and twisting plots, sharp, witty dialogue and doses of dark humor.

Before becoming a playwright, Shaffer graduated with a Law degree at Trinity College, Cambridge and worked as a Barrister.  He then moved on to a career in advertising before eventually setting up his own film production company making commercials.  However, with the active encouragement of his twin brother, the playwright Peter Shaffer (Royal Hunt Of The Sun, Equus and Amadeus) Anthony Shaffer was soon to start a writing career of his own.

Shaffer’s overnight success with his stage hit Sleuth in 1970 led him to work with some of the biggest names of theatre and film. He collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on his film Frenzy, adapted three Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels for the big screen and wrote screenplays for films which starred such names as Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Richard Burton, John Hurt, Peter Ustinov, Christopher Lee and Bette Davis to name but a few.

He was also approached by many of the big film producers and directors to work on projects for them and at times worked as a script consultant and collaborator on others.
His theatre work was just as prolific and he created some of theatres most original and inventive stageplays. It’s reported that Sleuth has been staged everyday somewhere in the world since it was first produced. Stars such as Anthony Quayle, Robert Stephens, and Marius Goring all had major parts in his plays.

Shaffer continued to work until his death in 2001.

Source: Anthony Shaffer’s Personal Website

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