Peter Janos had recently turned eighteen when he heard rumours that a demonstration was going to take place that day in Budapest. He and his classmates in the sixth form of his prestigious school were instructed not to attend, which naturally made them all the more eager to do so. They could not have known that this 'demonstration' would turn into a major uprising which was to change forever the lives of those involved.
The date was October 23rd 1956.
"John Peter has the most extraordinary tale to tell. He was one of the most powerful critics of his time, and so it's good to see his love of theatre shine through his writing; but what is more surprising is the nature of the battles he had to fight to achieve his preeminence." Simon Russell Beale
How I Became An Englishman is John Peter's astounding account of childhood in a Soviet State and his hair-raising escape from Hungary after the 1956 Uprising, to safety in England, and his gradual transformation into John Peter, Oxford graduate, author of Vladimir's Carrot: Modern Drama and the Modern Imagination, and Chief Drama Critic of The Sunday Times.
'Anybody who came across John Peter was instantly charmed by a puckish individual with a perpetual twinkle in the eye who drew people in by whispering quiet witticisms that were equally perceptive and funny. Even though he left his native Hungary in the late 1950s and completed his education at Oxford, the accent remained, but beyond that, the man became as Anglicised as his name. What readers of this thrilling, slim tome will discover is that, before Peter even came of age, he had lived through torrid times, lucky to escape alive and intact from a childhood and youth that contained many terrifying moments. Indeed, his hidden Jewish ancestry meant that, had a stray word been misplaced, Peter might have become a victim of the Nazis or their local collaborators and been murdered or condemned to a concentration camp....a stirring tale.' British Theatre Guide
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John Anthony Peter MBE (born Janos Antal Peter; 24 August 1938 - 3 July 2020) was a Hungarian-born British theatre critic, who immigrated to Britain in 1956. He was chief drama critic of The Sunday Times from 1984 to 2003, and The Sunday Times contributing drama critic through to 2010. In 1990 he founded the Ian Charleson Awards, which he directed until 2017.