Tom Stoppard’s work includes Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Real Inspector Hound, Jumpers, Travesties, Night and Day, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, After Magritte, Dirty Linen, The Real Thing, Hapgood, Arcadia, Indian Ink, The Invention of Love, the trilogy The Coast of Utopia, Rock ’n’ Roll, The Hard Problem and Leopoldstadt.
His radio plays include If You’re Glad I’ll Be Frank, Albert’s Bridge, Where Are They Now?, Artist Descending a Staircase, The Dog It Was That Died, In the Native State and Darkside (incorporating Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon).
Television work includes Professional Foul, Squaring the Circle and Parade’s End.
Film credits include Empire of the Sun, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which he also directed, Shakespeare in Love, Enigma and Anna Karenina.
‘We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.’
‘Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one, a moment, in childhood when it first occurred to you that you don't go on for ever. It must have been shattering – stamped into one's memory. And yet I can't remember it. It never occurred to me at all. What does one make of that? We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we know the words for it, before we know that there are words, out we come, bloodied and squalling with the knowledge that for all the compasses in the world, there's only one direction, and time is its only measure. ’
‘We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew?’
‘Life is a gamble, at terrible odds – if it was a bet you wouldn't take it. ’
‘When I was at school, on certain afternoons we all had to do what was called Labour - weeding, sweeping, sawing logs for the boiler-room, that kind of thing; but if you had a chit from Matron you were let off to spend the afternoon messing about in the Art Room. Labour or Art. And you’ve got a chit for life? (passionately) Where did you get it? What is an artist? For every thousand people there’s nine hundred doing the work, ninety doing well, nine doing good, and one lucky bastard who’s the artist.’
‘A genuine love of learning is one of the two delinquencies which cause blindness and lead a young man to ruin.’
‘Pollard Well, what's it like, Jackson
Jackson Kissing girls is not like science, nor is it like sport. It is the third thing when you thought there were only two.
‘Girls who kiss don't know Latin.’
‘You think human nature is a beast which must be put in a cage. But it's the cage that makes the animal bad.’
‘But you live as if without history, as if you throw no shadow behind you.’
‘By all that’s holy, it happened in one lifetime. My grandfather wore a caftan, my father went to the opera in a top hat, and I have the singers to dinner – actors, writers, musicians. We buy the books, we look at the paintings, we go to the theatre, the restaurant, we employ music teachers for our children. A new writer, if he’s a great poet like Hofmannsthal, walks among us like a demi-god. We literally worship culture. When we make money, that’s what the money is for, to put us at the beating heart of Viennese culture. This is the Promised Land, and not because it’s some place on a map where my ancestors came from. We’re Austrians now. Austrians of Jewish descent! ’