Howard Brenton was born in Portsmouth in 1942. His many plays include Christie in Love (Portable Theatre, 1969); Revenge (Theatre Upstairs, 1969); Magnificence (Royal Court Theatre,1973); The Churchill Play (Nottingham Playhouse, 1974, and twice revived by the RSC, 1978 and 1988); Bloody Poetry (FocoNovo, 1984, and Royal Court Theatre, 1987); Weapons of Happiness (National Theatre, Evening Standard Award, 1976); Epsom Downs (Joint Stock Theatre, 1977); Sore Throats (RSC,1978); The Romans in Britain (National Theatre, 1980, revived at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, 2006); Thirteenth Night (RSC,1981); The Genius (1983), Greenland (1988) and Berlin Bertie (1992), all presented by the Royal Court; Kit’s Play (RADA Jerwood Theatre, 2000); Paul (National Theatre, 2005); In Extremis (Shakespeare’s Globe, 2006 and 2007); Never So Good (National Theatre, 2008); The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists adapted from the novel by Robert Tressell (Liverpool Everyman and Chichester Festival Theatre, 2010); Anne Boleyn (Shakespeare’s Globe, 2010 and 2011); 55 Days (Hampstead Theatre, 2012); #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei (Hampstead Theatre, 2013); The Guffin (NT Connections, 2013); Drawing the Line (Hampstead Theatre, 2013); Doctor Scroggy's War (Shakespeare's Globe, 2014); Lawrence After Arabia (Hampstead Theatre, 2016); The Blinding Light (Jermyn Street Theatre, 2017), The Shadow Factory (NST City, Southampton, 2018), Jude (Hampstead Theatre, 2019) and Cancelling Socrates (Jermyn Street Theatre, London, 2022).
Collaborations with other writers include Brassneck (with David Hare, Nottingham Playhouse, 1972); Pravda (with David Hare, National Theatre, Evening Standard Award, 1985) and Moscow Gold (with Tariq Ali, RSC, 1990).
Versions of classics include The Life of Galileo (1980) and Danton's Death (1982), both for the National Theatre; Goethe's Faust (1995/6) for the RSC; a new version of Danton's Death for the National Theatre (2010); and versions of Strindberg's Dances of Death (Gate Theatre, 2013), Miss Julie (Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, & Jermyn Street Theatre, London, 2017) and Creditors (Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, & Jermyn Street Theatre, London, 2019).
He wrote thirteen episodes of the BBC1 drama series Spooks (2001–05, BAFTA Best Drama Series, 2003).