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Heathcote Williams obituary

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Poet, dramatist, visionary and pamphleteer whose muse was fuelled by a witty and beautiful anger

Heathcote Williams, who has died aged 75, was a unique and brilliant writer – poet, dramatist, visionary and pamphleteer. He restored and renovated a sense of intellectual anarchy in our public discourse in the great traditions of Jonathan Swift, Will- iam Blake and Percy Bysshe Shelley, all of whom were among his heroes.

Williams himself, an erudite and perpetually incensed Old Etonian non-joiner, was admired early on by William Burroughs, Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. He flitted in and out of public acclamation but had lately come into focus, with a fringe theatre revival of his first play, The Local Stigmatic (1966), giving the prophetic and chilling lowdown on today’s celebrity culture; with a devastating poetic broadside entitled Boris Johnson: The Blond Beast of Brexit– A Study in Depravity; and with, at this year’s Brighton festival, The Big Song, a learned treatise of a narrative, complete with a 100-strong choir, on the history of mass music-making with special reference to birdsong, protest song and baby song.

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