The writer won the Academy Award for adapted screenplay for Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” in 2003. Harwood was nominated in the same category for Peter Yates’ “The Dresser” in 1983 and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” in 2007.
He was regarded as one of Britain’s most successful post-war dramatic scribes. He adapted several of his plays for the big screen, including “The Dresser,” “Quartet” and “Taking Sides.” His other screenwriting credits include Baz Luhrmann’s “Australia,” starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, Polanski’s 2005 adaptation of “Oliver Twist,” “Being Julia” starring Annette Bening, and “Love in the Time of Cholera.”
He was a prolific writer, with dozens of plays, screenplays, scripts for television, and books, including the novel “Articles of Faith” and a biography of Sir Donald Wolfit. His plays include “Taking Tea With Stalin,” “Interpreters,” “Taking Sides,” “Ivanov,” “The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold” and many others.
Harwood was born in Cape Town and moved to London at age 17 to pursue a career in theatre. After training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, he joined the Shakespeare troupe run by (and starring) Wolfit. He was Wolfit’s personal dresser from 1953-58, which gave him the material for “The Dresser.” The writer received several honors throughout his career. He received a knighthood for his services to drama during the Queen’s Birthday Honors in 2010, two years after he won a BAFTA award for best adaptation of “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”
For television, he wrote and presented a multi-part history of the theatre for BBC2, “All the World’s a Stage.”
Harwood was chairman of the Royal Society of Literature from 2001 to 2004, and he was president of the Royal Literary Fund since 2005. In 1974, he was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a knight of France’s Order of Arts and Letters in 1996 and a commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1999. In 2014, Harwood received the National Jewish Theatre Foundation’s lifetime achievement award.
He is survived by his three children Antony, Deborah and Alexandra.