John Henley Jasper Heathcote-Williams is an English poet, actor and award-winning playwright. He is also an intermittent painter, sculptor and long-time conjuror. After his schooldays at Eton, he hacksawed his surname's double-barrel to become Heathcote Williams, a moniker more in keeping perhaps with his new-found persona. His father, also named Heathcote Williams, was a lawyer. He is perhaps best known for the book-length polemical poem Whale Nation, which in 1988 became "the most powerful argument for the newly instigated worldwide ban on whaling." In the early 1970s his agitational graffiti were a feature on the walls of the then low-rent end of London's Notting Hill district. From his early twenties, Williams has enjoyed a minor cult following. His first book, The Speakers (1964), a virtuoso close-focus account of life at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park, was greeted with unanimous critical acclaim. In 1974 it was successfully adapted for the stage by the Joint Stock Theatre Company.