Celia's Secret

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ISBN 9780571205707 Format Paperback
9780571205707
Paperback
Published 08/05/2001 Length 128 pages
128

About Book

One day during the run of Michael Fryan's play Copenhagen, a curious letter arrived from a housewife in Chiswick. She enclosed a few faded pages of barely legible German which she thought might have some relevance to the mystery at the play's heart. They turned out to mark the start of a long and winding trail.

The subject of Copenhagen is the strange visit that the German physicist, Werner Heisenberg, made to his former Danish colleague, Niels Bohr in 1941. The two old friends now found themselves on opposite sides in a world war, and Heisenberg could not explain to Bohr that he was running the Nazis' secret atomic programme. His intentions have intrigued and baffled historians, and the hitherto unpublished German documents which Celia Rhys-Evans now began to send Michael Frayn cast a remarkable new light on certain aspects of the story.

The gradual emergence of these papers was followed with particularly close interest by the actor, David Burke, who was playing Niels Bohr, and who had happened to have a wide experience of documents of this sort. When it was all over David Burke and Michael Frayn sat down together, rather as Bohr and Heisenberg do in the play, to try to unravel the mystery, and, like Bohr and Heisenberg, to confront once again the eternal difficulty of knowing why we do what we do.

One day during the run of Michael Fryan's play Copenhagen, a curious letter arrived from a housewife in Chiswick. She enclosed a few faded pages of barely legible German which she thought might have some relevance to the mystery at the play's heart. They turned out to mark the start of a long and winding trail.The subject of Copenhagen is the strange visit that the German physicist, Werner Heisenberg, made to his former Danish colleague, Niels Bohr in 1941. The two old friends now found themselves on opposite sides in a world war, and Heisenberg could not explain to Bohr that he was running the Nazis' secret atomic programme. His intentions have intrigued and baffled historians, and the hitherto unpublished German documents which Celia Rhys-Evans now began to send Michael Frayn cast a remarkable new light on certain aspects of the story. The gradual emergence of these papers was followed with particularly close interest by the actor, David Burke, who was playing Niels Bohr, and who had happened to have a wide experience of documents of this sort. When it was all over David Burke and Michael Frayn sat down together, rather as Bohr and Heisenberg do in the play, to try to unravel the mystery, and, like Bohr and Heisenberg, to confront once again the eternal difficulty of knowing why we do what we do.
  • About Michael Frayn

    Michael Frayn was born in London in 1933 and began his career as a journalist on the Guardian and the Observer. His novels include Towards the End of the Morning, Headlong, Spies and Skios. His seventeen plays range from Noises Off, recently chosen as one of the nation's three favourite plays, to Copenhagen, which won the 1998 Evening Standard Award for Best Play of the Year and the 2000 Tony Award for Best Play. He is married to the writer Claire Tomalin.

    Photo credit: Ekko von Schwichow

    Watch

    Watch Michael Frayn's Guardian interview here 

    Watch Michael Frayn on how he wrote Skios here 

    Watch Michael Frayn's Guardian Book Club discussion on Spies here 

    Read

    Michael Frayn's Paris Review interview on the art of the theatre here  

    Praise

    'The most delightful, sophisticated novel: Michael Frayn is probably England's funniest writer.' New York Times on Towards the End of the Morning

    'As brilliant as all Michael Frayn's work.' P.G. Wodehouse on The Tin Men

    'Frayn has never written more seductively and surely than in this book.' Sunday Times on Spies

    'Fans of [Frayn's] fabulously metaphysical farce will laugh themselves sick at this novel ... Frayn can't write a sentence without making you giggle but when he's in full comic flow he's a miracle of nature.' Daily Express on Skios

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