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Ronald Charles Scriven, often credited as R.C. Scriven (1907-1985) was a British poet and playwright whose favored medium was radio drama.



Born on 21 April 1907, near Sheffield, Scriven's father was an engineer and his grandfather the founder of Scriven-Crossthwaite, a tool manufacturer. When he was eight, he contracted otis media in his ears, leading to complete loss of hearing in his left ear, and significant loss in his right ear as well. His parents died not long after during the influenza epidemic of 1918, while he was boarding on a farm near Harrogate[1][2].

Sent to Crossley's School for Orphans in Halifax, Scriven was inspired by the English Master Mr. Robb, and decided to become a poet. Upon leaving school, however, he was forced to work for the family firm instead of pursuing his dream of studying at Oxford. After a failed business venture left him near bankruptcy, he took up work as a journalist, writing for the Yorkshire Post (his poems published under the name "Postitilian", the Yorkshire Observer and the Yorkshire Evening Post.

The first break in his literary career came with a poem, submitted to Punch, which was accepted. He contributed to the magazine regularly for the next thirteen years with the byline of "Ratz".

In the late 1940's, he developed glaucoma. He did not seek treatment early, and the gradual onset of the disease eventually left him completely blind, even after a series of painful operations. Scriven himself linked his childhood ear infection to his later glaucoma, although medically this is probably incorrect.

His wife Phyllis acted as his literary adviser and sometimes collaborator. They were married for 40 years and had one son, Marc. Phyllis eventually developed severe osteoarthritis, which made their lives even more difficult. They lived in the village of Thorner, near Leeds.

In 1977, Scriven published Edge of Darkness, Edge of Light, a memoir. He was seventy at the time, still writing, still struggling, still poor.

He died on 19 April 1985. He was cremated and his ashes were spread over the graves of his parents, Jack and Gertrude.

Career in Radio[]

Scriven's first play for radio was The Peacock City of P'tzan King in 1947. It was followed by many more, often autobiographical. In the 1950's several were written in collaboration with his wife, Phyllis.

His radio plays, usually written in verse, are typified by an intense visual and aural quality. In British Radio Drama, a collection of essays edited by John Drakakis, author David Wade describes him as "one of the most distinguished genuine radio writers during the period 1960-1980."

Perhaps his most famous play is The Seasons of the Blind, commissioned by the BBC to commemorate the centenary of the Royal Institute of the Blind in 1968. It was produced by his longtime BBC producer, Charles Lefeaux. The success of the broadcast encouraged Scriven to renew his interest in radio drama and write a series of well-received autobiographical radio plays in his later years.

In 1953, his radio plays A Single Taper and The Inward Eye: Boy - 1913 were published. In 1974, the BBC published another collection of his radio plays, entitled The Seasons of the Blind and other radio plays in verse. Both books are out of print.

His last known work for radio is believed to be A Blind Understanding in 1977. It was commissioned to celebrate his 70th birthday.

Radio Plays[]

External Links[]


  1. Sandford, Rosemary. "Sunshine and Shadow: R.C. Scriven" Open Hand 2009
  2. Scriven, R.C. The Seasons of the Blind and other radio plays in verse British Broadcasting Corporation. London 1974
  3. Diversity
  4. Scriven, R.C. The Seasons of the Blind and other radio plays in verse British Broadcasting Corporation. London 1974
  5. Drakakis, John (editor) British Radio Drama Cambridge University Press 1981