Shelagh Delaney was born in Salford, near Manchester, England, to a working-class family of Irish descent. Though most sources give the year of her birth as 1939, her daughter Charlotte Delaney says the correct date was Nov. 25, 1938. She wrote her breakthrough first play, A Taste of Honey (1958), at age 18. It took place in England’s gritty industrial north country, an unusual setting at the time, and quickly became known as part of the pioneering "Angry Young Men" or "kitchen sink" movement of drama. In 1961, it was adapted as an award-winning film, with a screenplay by Delaney, directed by Tony Richardson.
She continued her career as a writer for another 50 years, although none of her subsequent works achieved the same degree of fame. They included the play The Lion in Love (1961); a volume of short stories, Sweetly Sings the Donkey (1963); and screenplays for Charlie Bubbles (1968) and Dance with a Stranger (1985).