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Açores, Portugal

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Christopher Hampton


Sir Christopher James Hampton CBE FRSL (Horta, Azores, 26 January 1946) is a British playwright, screenwriter, translator, and film director. He is best known for his play Les Liaisons Dangereuses based on the novel of the same name and the film adaptation.


 He has thrice received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay: for Dangerous Liaisons (1988), Atonement (2007), and The Father (2020); winning for the former and latter.


Hampton is also known for his work in the theatre including Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and The Philanthropist. He also translated the plays The Seagull (2008), God of Carnage (2009), The Father (2016), and The Height of the Storm (2019). 


He also wrote the books and lyrics for the musical Sunset Boulevard (1995) and its revival in 2016. He received two Tony Awards for Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.


Hampton was born in Faial, Azores, to British parents Dorothy Patience (née Herrington) and Bernard Patrick Hampton, a marine telecommunications engineer for Cable & Wireless. His father's job led the family to settle in Aden, Yemen, Cairo, and Alexandria in Egypt, and later in Hong Kong and Zanzibar. During the Suez Crisis in 1956, the family had to flee Egypt under cover of darkness, leaving their possessions behind.


After a prep school at Reigate in Surrey, Hampton attended the independent boarding school Lancing College near the village of Lancing in West Sussex at the age of 13. There he won house colors for boxing and distinguished himself as a sergeant in the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). Among his contemporaries at Lancing was David Hare, later also a dramatist; poet Harry Guest was a teacher.


From 1964, Hampton read German and French at New College, Oxford, as a Sacher Scholar. He graduated with a starred First Class Degree in 1968.


Hampton became involved in the theatre while at Oxford University. The Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS) performed his original play When Did You Last See My Mother?, about adolescent homosexuality.


 He drew from his own experiences at Lancing. Hampton sent the work to the play agent Peggy Ramsay, who interested William Gaskill in it. The play was performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London, and soon transferred to the Comedy Theatre; in 1966, Hampton was the youngest writer in the modern era to have a play performed in the West End.


 Hampton's work on screenplays for the cinema also began around this time. He adapted this play for Richard Attenborough and Bryan Forbes, but a film version was never made.

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