Kenneth Halliwell

Kenneth Leith Halliwell (23 June 1926 – 9 Aug. 1967); British actor, writer and collagist. He was the mentor, boyfriend and murderer of playwright Joe Orton.

Halliwell was born in Bebington. He was very close to his mother; when he was 11, he witnessed her death from a wasp sting at the family home.

Halliwell was a classics scholar at Wirral Grammar School, where he gained his Higher School Certificate in 1943. Becoming liable for military service in 1944, he registered as a conscientious objector, and was exempted conditional upon becoming a coal miner. After discharge in 1946, he acted for a time in Scotland and then returned home to act in Birkenhead. His father committed suicide in 1949 by putting his head in a gas oven; Halliwell was the first to find the body the following morning. Afterward, Halliwell moved to London to study drama at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), having inherited the family fortune.

From Jan. 1959, Orton and Halliwell were involved in the theft and defacement of public library books. Halliwell became an illicit collage artist, while Orton wrote the fake blurbs for the flyleaf of the dust jackets. After their trial in 1962 the men were...

...On 9 Aug. 1967 Halliwell killed Orton with nine hammer blows to the head and then overdosed on Nembutal sleeping pills. Halliwell died first. Their bodies were discovered late the following morning, when a chauffeur arrived at the door of their Noel Road flat in Islington to collect Orton for a meeting with The Beatles regarding a screenplay he had written for them.

Halliwell's suicide note referred to the contents of Orton's diary as an explanation for his actions:

"If you read his diary, all will be explained. KH PS: Especially the latter part."

This is presumed to be a reference to Orton's description of his promiscuity; the diary contains numerous incidents of cottaging in public lavatories and other casual sexual encounters....
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First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


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