Born June 5, 1947 in St. Leonards, Sussex, England, David Hare was educated at Lancing College, Sussex. He then went on to earn an MA in English from Jesus College, Cambridge in 1968.
His writing career began when a playwright failed to deliver a play to the Portable Theatre, a travelling theatre group Hare had co-founded with Tony Bicât. With only four days left before the scheduled performance and no play in sight, Hare sat down and composed what he now calls "a primitive satire on the unlikelihood of revolution in Britain." However, the short piece must have inspired some confidence in Hare's ability, for he was soon commissioned to write a full-length piece, Slag, which won him the Evening Standard Award for most promising new playwright. Set in a school for girls, Slag tells the story of three teachers who decide to abstain from sex as a protest. In the end, however, their attempt to establish an alternative society fails.
Hare served as literary manager (1969-70) and resident dramatist (1970-71) for the Royal Court Theatre, London. In 1973, he became resident dramatist at the Nottingham Playhouse. Then, in 1975, he co-founded the Joint Stock Theatre Company, for whom he adapted Fanshen (1975), William Hinton's book on the Chinese Revolution. Like most of Hare's political plays, Fanshen refuses to simplify complex moral issues. Focusing on the difficulties, mistakes, and corruptions of the revolution, Hare ultimately implies that those involved can learn from their mistakes and perhaps even move towards a more ideal society.
After 1975, Hare began to write for the National Theatre which produced Plenty (1978), A Map of the World (1983), and Pravda (1985). Plenty, often considered Hare's best play, revolves around a woman who served in the French Resistance during World War II but finds herself disillusioned by post-war Britain. The play questions the ability of world leaders to effect change. A Map of the World, which takes its title from Oscar Wilde's observation that "A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at," contrasts the cynicism of a successful novelist with an aggressive and idealistic young journalist. And Pravda deals with the subservience of journalists to the power-hungry businessmen that dominate London's Fleet Street.
Hare continued his satire in a trilogy of plays which set their sights on one of Hare's favorite targets--institutions. Racing Demon (1990) examines the Church of England, Murmuring Judges (1991) questions the British legal system, and Absence of War (1993) takes a harsh look at Britain's Labour Party. Some of Hare's more recent plays, however, are less overtly political. Amy's View (1997) is a wry and witty exploration of the relationship between a mother and daughter, and The Judas Kiss (1998) speculates on what might have happened behind closed doors between playwright Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, the man he loved and who betrayed him.
In addition to directing his own work, Hare has directed many other plays including The Pleasure Principle (1973) by Snoo Wilson, Weapons of Happiness (1976) by Howard Brenton, and Devil's Island (1977) by Tony Bicât. He also directed a production of King Lear for the National Theatre which featured Anthony Hopkins as Lear. Since 1984, Hare has served as associate director of the National Theatre, London
In 1982, Hare founded a film company, Greenpoint Films. He has written several screenplays including Plenty (1985), Weatherby (1985), Strapless (1989), Paris By Night (1989), and Damage (1992). He has also written several teleplays for the BBC including Licking Hitler (1978) and Saigon: The Year of the Cat (1983).
Hare's awards include the BAFTA Award (1979), the New York Drama Critics Circle Award (1983), the Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear (1985), the Olivier Award (1990), and the London Theatre Critics' Award (1990).