Monday, 15 August 2011

Good taste, good books

"The kind of people who always go on about whether a thing is in good taste invariably have very bad taste." Joe Orton
Malicious Damage - an exhibition at Islington Museum, 13 October 2011 – 25 February 2012.
In 1962 the aspiring playwright Joe Orton and his partner and mentor Kenneth Halliwell were each sentenced to six months imprisonment for malicious damage to Islington Public Library books. The offenders were found guilty of stealing and ‘doctoring’ library book covers with images from other sources or by adding new text and narrative. They also removed illustrations from library art books to ‘wallpaper’ their bed-sit at 25 Noel Road.

During imprisonment Joe Orton embarked upon what was to be a successful but all too brief writing career, cut short by his murder at the jealous hand of his partner. Malicious Damage tells the story surrounding the crimes of Orton and Halliwell and, for the first time at Islington Museum, offers the opportunity to view all of the surviving doctored book covers along with other material reflecting the life and work of the pair.
Two events at the Islington Museum, organised to coincide with the exhibition, are also a must-see:

Kenneth Williams, Joe Orton and the debacle of Felicity’s 21st birthday, Thursday 17 November, 6.30pm
Journalist and author of Born Brilliant: the life of Kenneth Williams, Christopher Stevens reveals the intriguing story surrounding the last week of the ill-fated 1965 tour of Joe Orton’s Loot, which starred the Islington-born and much-loved comic actor Williams.

Malicious Collage: The art of Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell, Thursday 1 December, 6.30pm
Ilsa Colsell is the author of Malicious Damage, a new book about the crimes of playwright Joe Orton and his partner Kenneth Halliwell, published jointly by Islington Library and Heritage Services and Donlon books. In conversation, the author will discuss and explore events surrounding the illicit library book collage work that led to Orton and Halliwell each receiving six months imprisonment. The discussion will conclude with a question and answer session.
Islington Museum

Joe Orton online


  1. Oh! I wish I could see this. How brilliant. Can you imagine picking up one of those books?! Pure genius.


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