Christopher James Hampton, CBE, FRSL (born 26 January 1946) is a British playwright, screenwriter, translator and film director. He is best known for his play based on the novel Les Liaisons dangereuses and the film version Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and also more recently for writing the nominated screenplay for the film adaptation of Ian McEwan's Atonement.
Hampton was born in Faial, Azores, to British parents Dorothy Patience (née Herrington) and Bernard Patrick Hampton, a marine telecommunications engineer for Cable & Wireless. His father's job led the family to settle in Aden and Alexandria in Egypt and later Hong Kong and Zanzibar. The Suez Crisis in 1956 necessitated that the family flee under cover of darkness, leaving their possessions behind.
After a prep school at Reigate in Surrey, Hampton attended the independent boarding school Lancing College near the village of Lancing in West Sussex at the age of 13, where he won house colours for boxing and distinguished himself as a sergeant in the CCF. Fellow dramatist David Hare was a school contemporary; poet Harry Guest was a teacher.
Hampton became involved in the theatre while at Oxford University where OUDS performed his play When Did You Last See My Mother?, about adolescent homosexuality, reflecting his own experiences at Lancing. Hampton sent the work to the play agent Peggy Ramsay, who interested William Gaskill in it. The play was performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London, and that production soon transferred to the Comedy Theatre, resulting in Hampton, in 1966, becoming the youngest writer to have a play performed in the West End in the modern era. From 1968 to 1970, he worked as the Resident Dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre, and also as the company's literary manager.
Hampton won the Academy Award for Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay">Best Adapted Screenplay in 1988 for the screen adaptation of his play Dangerous Liaisons. He was nominated again in 2007 for adapting Ian McEwan's novel Atonement.
Hampton's translation into English of Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay's Austrian musical Rebecca, based on Daphne du Maurier's book, was supposed to premiere on Broadway in 2012; however, the future of this production is uncertain as of January 2013. The scheduled production became mired in scandal when "several investors were revealed to be concoctions of a rainmaking middleman."
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