Alan Bennett: ‘I didn’t want to be labelled as gay’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Writer Alan Bennett says he didn’t want to be “labelled” as a gay man for fear of it detracting from his artistic work.

Bennett, who wrote The History Boys and The Madness of George III, told BBC Four: “My objection to people knowing more about one’s private life was that I didn’t want to be put in a pigeonhole”.

“I didn’t want to be labelled as gay and that was it.”

He added: “I wanted to be my own man.”

“Looking back on your life, the things you remember are the things that you didn’t do,” Bennett said. “A lot of that will be to do with sex, I suppose.”

“It’s in my nature to feel somehow that one has missed out. It’s my view of my own life except that I’ve been very, very lucky. I met my partner quite late in life and so the last part of my life is much happier than the first part.”

Bennett, who is in a civil partnership with Rupert Thomas, editor-in-chief of World of Interiors magazine, previously admitted that he did not understand “what all the fuss was about over gay marriage” when it came to opposition.

He said: “I haven’t met anyone who cared one way or the other. Civil partnership mattered but I really couldn’t understand why the far right-wing Conservatives were making so much fuss. It doesn’t threaten marriage. The whole thing seemed to me a storm in a teacup.”

Bennett turns 80 on Friday.