Born George Emlyn Williams in Pen-y-Ffordd, Mostyn, Flintshire in northeast Wales on November 1905, he lived in a rural village in which Welsh was spoken until he was 12 years old, when his family moved to an English-speaking town, Connah's Quay. It changed the course of his life as it was there that the teacher Sarah Grace Cooke, recognizing his literary talent, encouraged him and helped him win a scholarship to Oxford, where he attended the college of Christ Church. She is immortalized in the character of Miss Moffat in his play, "The Corn is Green."
Williams' plays "Yesterday's Magic," "The Morning Star" and "Someone Waiting" were also performed on Broadway, and he had a success on the Great White Way as an actor himself in a solo performance as Charles Dickens, which he revived twice. He was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for 'A Boy Growing Up' (1958), an adaptation of a work by fellow Welshman 'Dylan Thomas'. The tribal Williams also nurtured the young Welshman Richard Burton, whom he directed in his first lead film role in 'The Last Days of Dolwyn' (1949). (Burton's professional stage debut had been in Williams' play "Druid's Rest," and Emyln Williams' son 'Brook Williams' became one of his life-long friends.) Williams was the godfather to his first daughter, 'Kate Burton', who is also an actress.
In addition to directing and acting in film, Emlyn Williams famously collaborated with the great director Alfred Hitchcock. Williams acted in and wrote additional dialog for both the original The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and Jamaica Inn (1939).
Emlyn Williams wrote two memoirs, "George, An Early Autobiography" (1961), and "'Emlyn: An Early Autography, 1927-1935" (1974), as well as a 1967 non-fiction account of the Moors Murders entitled "Beyond Belief." His 1980 novel "Headlong" was adapted by David S. Ward into the movie "King Ralph" (1991). He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1962.
When he died in 1987, Emlyn Williams had written or co-written 20 screenplays in addition to his 20 plays. As an actor, he had appeared in 41 films and teleplays, plus made numerous appearances on stage.
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