John’s first success, at the age of eight, was the words for a carol, performed by the choir of St George’s School Tunbridge Wells at Christmas 1949. This carol gained him a Presentation to Christ’s Hospital School. His first professionally published poem, written in1958, appeared in The Wheel of Poetry in 1963.
From Christ’s Hospital School he won an Exhibition to University College Oxford, read English, and then plunged into repertory theatre.
Over the years he has read his own short stories on Radio Three and written and performed numerous solo shows: The lives of SCHUMANN, SCHUBERT, MOZART, BEETHOVEN, HOPKINS, DONNE, PEPYS, CHAUCER, BYRON and BROWNING. His solo show BYRON was seen on HTV in a series with Emlyn Williams called SINGULAR PERFORMANCES.
He has written two shows for Honor Blackman: WAYWARD WOMEN and DISHONOURABLE LADIES, which came to the Criterion Theatre Piccadilly for a run in 1993.
In 1992 he wrote his first play, DREAM CHILDREN, a two-hander about Charles and Mary Lamb, in which he played Charles with Tilly Tremayne as Mary at the Edinburgh Fringe. It was well reviewed and revived ten years later. Four more plays followed including THE NAKED PRINCE, optioned by Michael Codron, BLUE ORCHIDS, WILDWOOD (a musical) and MATT which, with the London cast, was performed in December 2018 as the climax to a Hate Crimes Conference in Brussels. It is scheduled to have its USA debut in 2020.
A TEDx Talk given by John Watts in 2019 about his play MATT can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-_GsvYuY6g.