Kevin Elyot was born in Handworth, Birmingham, West Midlands, England. He was educated at King Edward's school. He acted in school plays, played piano and sang in church choirs before going to Bristol University to take a degree in Theatre Studies.
"I was a teenager when homosexuality was decriminalised. I certainly wasn't bullied at school, so I think I was very lucky. I was probably wearing rose-tinted spectacles at the time - it was the Sixties after all," he once commented. But he was aware not everyone had the same experience, a recognition that informed his play The Day I Stood Still at the Cottesloe in 1998, which evoked a Sixties in which every barrier had been broken down except gay liberation.
His first play as a writer was Coming Clean , staged at the Bush in 1982. An explicit depiction of the eternal triangle, it won Elyot the 1982 Samuel Beckett Award. In 1986 he was awarded an Arts Council bursary, which he intended to use to write a play about the murder of film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, but what emerged instead was Consent , a poison pen letter to Section 28, Elyot shaping the plot and characters in workshops with a group of 16 drama students and five professional actors who then performed it at the Central Studio in Basingstoke.
Mouth to Mouth at the Royal Court in 2001, like My Night with Reg , transferred to the West End, and was again a play centred on a group of people gathering to dine but in fact chewing over past misfortunes and spitting out a lot of bitterness in the process.
He was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1995 (1994 season) for Best Comedy for My Night with Reg. He was also awarded the 1994 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre) for Most Promising Playwright for My Night with Reg.
His play, Mouth to Mouth performed at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court, was nominated for a 2002 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best New Play of 2001. He was also nominated for a 2001 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Play for Mouth to Mouth, performed at the Royal Court Theatre and later at the Albery Theatre.
Kevin Elyot says: "While there seems to be a greater acceptance of gays in society - consent, equality, civil partnerships, higher media visibility - homophobic violence has not disappeared. Bigotry is still bubbling just below the surface and sometimes in the most surprising quarters."
Elyot had endured poor health for 20 years, since contracting pneumonia on holiday in Italy. In these circumstances, his work rate was heroic, and he was always a good-natured neighbour in Hampstead, north London, as he shuffled between his home and the Royal Free hospital. He died aged 62 after a long illness.