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Tom Stoppard (born 1937) fled his birthplace of Zlin, in Czechoslovakia, in the wake of imminent Nazi occupation, and spent the Second World War in Singapore and India. He settled with his family in Britain in 1946, and took his stepfather’s surname. On leaving school, he became a journalist and then a playwright. In 1966, he attracted much attention with his absurdist tragicomedy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which was influenced by Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. This was followed by many other inventive stage plays, including Travesties (1974), Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1977, with music by André Previn), The Real Thing (1982), Arcadia (1993) and The Invention of Love (1997). He has also written for television, radio and film, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Shakespeare in Love (1998). His work often treats such themes as human rights and political freedom with dazzling wit and a strong sense of theatricality. He was knighted in 1997 and admitted to the Order of Merit in the year 2000.