A Taste of Honey Background

A Taste of Honey Background

A Taste of Honey is a play written by Shelagh Delaney. Delaney, a British dramatist, was only 18 when she wrote the play. Originally, she wrote it to be a novel, but changed it into a play because she wanted to bring important social issues back into British theatre. It was first performed in 1958, and later the play was made into a movie, also titled A Taste of Honey, in 1961.

Set in Salford in the 1950s, the protagonist of the play is named Jo, who is seventeen years old. She is a worker in her town, but her mother doesn't hold the highest morals and has a lot of relationships for money. Helen, Jo’s mother, begins a new relationship with a younger but rich man named Peter and leaves Jo in their house. During that time, Jo begins a relationship with a colored sailor named Jimmy, who proposes to Jo and then leaves on a trip after getting Jo pregnant. Jo has to find a new place to live, and she ends up making housing arrangements with Geoffrey, who is a homosexual and later acts as the child’s father. As Helen returns and more complications arise, the play becomes much more than just a social commentary.

A Taste of Honey highlights and questions the social tensions stemming from different opinions in working class, race, gender, and sexual orientation in Britain during this time period. In addition, the mother-daughter relationship is strained by poverty, sexism, and racism, yet the lessons taught are done so through humor and optimism. As Jo tries to grow up as a young woman in her small town, she becomes somewhat a heroine as she tries to answer some social questions for herself.

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