: Osborne’s Harem :

an excerpt by Jeffrey Meyers

John Osborne hated critics and warned friends “never marry an actress!,” but he married two critics and three actresses. It’s tempting to paraphrase Gertrude Stein’s wisecrack about Hemingway’s marital failures and say that anyone who marries three actresses hasn’t learned much. But Osborne, incapable of finding contentment or stability in marriage, constantly sought anguish and conflict. He was handsome, talented and bright, lively, amusing and generous, as well as angry, aggressive and self-destructive. He was also irresistible to women as reckless and unstable as himself. He could always find another wife and another mistress, and relished his power to keep several women at once. Though this way of life could be a living hell, it was above all dramatic—the thrill of seduction and falling in love, the excitement of lying and deception, the intensity of misery and degradation—and drama was his passion.