Henrik Ibsen was born of well-to-do parents at Skien, a small Norwegian coastal town, on March 20, 1828. In 1836 his father went bankrupt, and the family was reduced to near poverty. At the age of fifteen, he was apprenticed to an apothecary in Grimstad. In 1850 Ibsen ventured to Christiania --present-day Oslo --as a student, with the hope of becoming a doctor. On the strength of his first two plays he was appointed "theater-poet" to the new Bergen National Theater, where he wrote five conventional romantic and historical dramas and absorbed the elements of his craft. In 1857 he was called to the directorship of the financially unsound Christiania Norwegian Theater, which failed in 1862. In 1864, exhausted and enraged by the frustration of his efforts toward a national drama and theater, he quit Norway for what became twenty-seven years of voluntary exile abroad. In Italy he wrote the volcanic Brand (1866), which made his reputation and secured him a poet's stipend from the government. Its companion piece, the phantasmagoric Peer Gynt, followed in 1867, then the immense double play, Emperor and Galilean (1873), expressing his philosophy of civilization. Meanwhile, having moved to Germany, Ibsen had been searching for a new style. With The Pillars of Society he found it; this became the first of twelve plays, appearing at two-year intervals, that confirmed his international standing as the foremost dramatist of his age. In 1900 Ibsen suffered the first of several strokes that incapacitated him. He died in Oslo on May 23, 1906.
Born on January 26, 1946 in Fayal in the Azores, Christopher Hampton graduated from New College, Oxford, with a Modern Languages degree in 1968. After a stint as the resident dramatist at the Royal Court from 1968 to 1970, Hampton began a career as a playwright, soon becoming interested in screenwriting, directing, and producing. As a playwright, Hampton wrote more than a dozen tales including When Did You Last See My Mother?, Tales from Hollywood, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and Alice's Adventures Under Ground. In 1988, Hampton decided to take his hit play Les Liaisons Dangereuses to the big screen. The resulting movie, Dangerous Liaisons, which Hampton also co-produced, featured Michelle Pfeiffer and John Malkovich in leading roles. Hampton has also written the screenplays for the movies A Doll's House, a story based on Henrik Ibsen's popular play, The Secret Agent and Carrington, both of which Hampton also directed, and Mary Reilly, which starred Julia Roberts. Christopher Hampton has received numerous honors including the Laurence Olivier Award for Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1986, an Academy Award and Writers' Guild award in 1988 for Dangerous Liaisons, and a Tony award in 1995 for Best Score and Best Book of a Musical for Sunset Boulevard.