Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Friends bid Pinter final farewell

Harold Pinter in 2005
Pinter wrote 32 plays during his career

Family and close friends of playwright Harold Pinter have gathered to say farewell at a private funeral.

Around 50 people, including his widow Lady Antonia Fraser, attended the burial at a north-west London cemetery.

Poems were read during the 15 minute ceremony in accordance with the wishes of the Nobel-winning playwright.

Pinter, who wrote 32 plays, one novel and 22 screenplays, died on Christmas Eve at the age of 78 after a long battle with cancer.

He won the Tony Award for best play in 1967 for The Homecoming and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005.

Reading

Amongst his most famous plays are The Birthday Party and The Caretaker.

Pinter had left instructions for his funeral, which included a reading from one of his plays by the actor Michael Gambon, a close friend.

Three months ago, the gravely ill playwright asked Sir Michael to read the passage - from No Man's Land - at his funeral service.

Sir Michael previously read it on stage following a Boxing Day performance of No Man's Land in the West End - the first time one of Pinter's plays was performed after his death.

Lady Antonia Fraser
Lady Antonia Fraser attended the service with family members

The excerpt concluded: "And so I say to you, tender the dead as you would yourself be tendered, now, in what you would describe as your life."

There are plans for a memorial event for Pinter at some point next year.

Meanwhile, Broadway theatres have dimmed their lights in honour of Pinter.

The Broadway League said lights in the New York theatre district were dimmed for about one minute at 7pm on Tuesday (0000 GMT).

'Genius'

Charlotte Saint Martin, executive director of The Broadway League, said: "Harold Pinter has been called one of the most influential and imitated playwrights of his generation.

"We are so grateful for his genius and distinct contributions to modern theatre."

Pinter was born in Hackney, in London's East End in 1930.

He was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in 2002 and following treatment had announced that he was on the road to recovery.

Three years later, he said he had given up writing in order to concentrate on political work.



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