John Irving Wardle (born 20 July 1929 in Bolton, England) is a writer and theatre critic.
His father, John Wardle, was drama critic on the Bolton Evening News, and a regular performer at the Bolton Little Theatre. He studied English at Wadham College, Oxford; and Music at the Royal College of Music, London.
He worked as a sub-editor on The Times Literary Supplement, 1956-; as deputy theatre critic (to Kenneth Tynan) on The Observer, 1959-63; drama critic for The Times 1963-89; editor Gambit 1973-75; theatre critic for The Independent on Sunday 1989-95(?).
He has published two books, a biography The Theatres of George Devine (Jonathan Cape, 1978) and Theatre Criticism (Routledge, 1992)
His first play, The Houseboy was performed at The Open Space Theatre in 1973. The play is semi-autobiographical, based on Wardle’s experience from a part-time job washing dishes at a London guest house. The production was directed by Charles Marowitz and the cast included Timothy West. A television production was made for ITV’s Playhouse season and screened on 3 July 1982, directed by Christopher Hodson. The cast was Stephen Garlick, Geoffrey Palmer, Richard Pasco and Earl Rhodes.
Irving Wardle married Joan Notkin in 1958; Fay Crowder in 1963, they had two sons, Benjamin and Thomas; and finally Elizabeth Grist in 1975, and had a son and daughter, Alexander and Judith, with her. He lives in Barnet, North London.