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Did you witness Beckett in Folkestone?

Beckett wedding

In 1961, one of the most famous playwrights in the world spent two weeks in Folkestone to get married. As part of our Folkestone Book Festival event, Beckett in Folkestone, we are trying to anyone that may know something about Beckett's secret wedding. Can you help?

  • The marriage certificate for Samuel Beckett's wedding was witnessed by two people. The names are E Pugsley and J Bond. In our research, we have found that they are probably employees of the registry office. Did you work in the Folkestone registry office in the 1960s? Are these your parents or relatives? 
  • Samuel Beckett was one of the most famous playwrights in the world at the time and was a very recognisable figure. During his stay in Folkestone, Beckett tried to remain incognito. But we believe and journalist from The Daily Express was in the town or area at the time and may have tried to track down Beckett. Did you work for The Daily Express during this time? 
  • We also know that ahead of the Big Day, Samuel Beckett stayed at The Bristol Hotel on The Leas. Did you or any of your family work in the hotel at the time? We are particularly interested to find the receptionist that may have booked Beckett for his stay.

If you have any information relating to the points above we would love to hear from you. Please contact Nico Dunsbee if you think you can help. 

More about Beckett in Folkestone

For this year's Folkestone Book Festival we are proud to present an immersive multimedia experience for an audience of one at a time, inspired by a curious event in the life of one of the greatest writers in history.

On 25 March 1961, following a fortnight of dodging reporters, hiding from the public, and generally ‘trying to be invisible’ in Folkestone, Nobel laureate, novelist, and playwright Samuel Beckett was married to his long-time partner Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil at a secret ceremony in the town’s Registry Office.

At Folkestone, Beckett spent the evenings in local pubs, worked on the manuscript of his play, Happy Days, and generally tried to remain in the shadows. Suzanne joined him three days before the wedding and on Saturday 25 March, they were married in a ceremony witnessed by two people who had either been pulled in from the street or worked at the Registry Office. The couple’s secrecy was jeopardised at the last minute when a reporter from the Daily Express phoned Beckett’s literary agent, asking whether the man due to be married in Folkestone later that morning was his author. 

The Beckett in Folkestone event will feature three short fictional monologues specially written by acclaimed writers, Helen Oyeyemi, Rupert Thomson and Eimear McBride in which they portray three Folkestone residents who observed (or nearly observed in one case) Beckett during his stay. The writings will be presented in short films read by Jade Anouka, Russell Tovey and Harriet Walter.

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