David Mercer was born in Wakefield in 1928, the son of an engine driver. He left school at 14 and subsequently trained and qualified as a laboratory technician and worked in this capacity for three years in a civilian hospital and then for a further three years in a Royal Navy laboratory. After leaving the navy in 1948 he studied painting for four years under Lawrence Gowing at King’s College, Newcastle upon Tyne, graduating in 1953. While living in Paris during the following two years he began writing and after a period as a teacher in various London schools he became a full time writer. He died in Israel in 1980. After Haggerty, Mercer's first major stage success is, in the playwright's own words, "an intervention and a commentary on the supposed revolutionary theatre of 1968 and after."