The History Boys: A Play A Play

Alan Bennett

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

144 Pages


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Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play

An unruly bunch of bright, funny sixth-form (or senior) boys in a British boys' school are, as such boys will be, in pursuit of sex, sport, and a place at a good university, generally in that order. In all their efforts, they are helped and hindered, enlightened and bemused, by a maverick English teacher who seeks to broaden their horizons in sometimes undefined ways, and a young history teacher who questions the methods, as well as the aim, of their schooling. In The History Boys, Alan Bennett evokes the special period and place that the sixth form represents in an English boy's life. In doing so, he raises not only universal questions about the nature of history and how it is taught but also questions about the purpose of education today.


Praise for The History Boys: A Play

"Madly enjoyable . . . Mr. Bennett's dialogue [is] as shimmering and warming as a fine Cognac . . . [One is] always aware of the complex emotional currents of doubt, perplexity and eroticism that throbs among practically everyone onstage."—Ben Brantley, The New York Times

"A play of depth as well as dazzle, intensely moving as well as thought-provoking and funny."—The Daily Telegraph

"Nothing could diminish the incendiary achievement of this subtle, deep-wrought and immensely funny play about the value and meaning of education . . . In short, a superb, life-enhancing play."—The Guardian

"Brilliantly funny . . . The History Boys is moving, disquieting: one follows it with a heart brimful . . . His finest work in decades."—Financial Times

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

The History Boys: A Play

Act One
Irwin is in a wheelchair, in his forties, addressing three or four unidentified MPs.
IRWIN This is the tricky one.
The effect of the bill will be to abolish trial by jury in at...

Read the full excerpt


  • Alan Bennett

  • Alan Bennett is a renowned playwright and essayist whose screenplay for The Madness of King George was nominated for an Academy Award. He lives in London, England.

  • Alan Bennett Hugo Glendinning
    Alan Bennett