Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on John Osborne's Look Back in Anger. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Look Back in Anger: Introduction
Look Back in Anger: Plot Summary
Look Back in Anger: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Look Back in Anger: Themes
Look Back in Anger: Quotes
Look Back in Anger: Characters
Look Back in Anger: Symbols
Look Back in Anger: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of John Osborne
Historical Context of Look Back in Anger
Other Books Related to Look Back in Anger
- Full Title: Look Back in Anger
- When Written: 1955
- Where Written: Osborne wrote much of the play in the beach town of Morcambe in Lancashire, England. He was living in London at the time.
- When Published: The play premiered on May 8, 1956 at the Royal Court Theater in London. It was first published in 1957 by Faber and Faber.
- Literary Period: Theatrical realism. The play kicked off British theater’s “Angry Young Men” movement.
- Genre: Dramatic stage play
- Setting: A working class apartment in the Midlands, a region in the center of Britain sometime during the early 1950s.
- Climax: Alison loses her baby to a miscarriage and returns to her husband, Jimmy.
- Antagonist: Both Jimmy and Alison can be considered antagonists, as they fight with and antagonize each other. A broader thematic antagonist is post-war malaise in Britain.
Extra Credit for Look Back in Anger
Quotable old press officer. The origin of the phrase “angry young men” to describe playwrights comes from a 1957 Daily Telegraph article by Royal Court Theater press officer George Fearon. Fearon had predicted that his own generation was likely to hate Look Back in Anger, while Osborne’s generation would love it. “If that happens,” Fearon said to Osborne, “you will become known as the ‘Angry Young Man.’ In fact, we decided then and there that henceforth he was to be known as that.”
The Ironing Board. Osborne’s play was revolutionary in that it brought a new type of realism to the stage. In fact, audiences were so shocked to see an ironing board when the curtain went up on opening night that an audible gasp could be heard in the Royal Court Theater.