Keith Waterhouse

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Keith Spencer Waterhouse CBE (6 February 1929 – 4 September 2009)[1] was a British novelist, newspaper columnist, and the writer of many television series.


Keith Waterhouse was born in Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. He did two years of national service in the Royal Air Force.

His credits, many with lifelong friend and collaborator Willis Hall, include satires such as That Was The Week That Was, BBC-3 and The Frost Report during the 1960s, the book for the 1975 musical The Card, Budgie, Worzel Gummidge, and Andy Capp (an adaptation of the comic strip).

His 1959 book Billy Liar was subsequently filmed by John Schlesinger with Tom Courtenay in the part of Billy. It was nominated in six categories of the 1964 BAFTA awards, including Best Screenplay, and was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1963; in the early 1970s a sitcom based on the character was quite popular and ran to 25 episodes.

Waterhouse's first screenplay was the film Whistle Down the Wind (1961). Without receiving screen credit, Waterhouse and Hall extensively rewrote the original script for Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain (1966). Waterhouse wrote the play, Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell (1989; Old Vic premiere, 1999), based on the life of journalist Jeffrey Bernard.

His career began at the Yorkshire Evening Post and he also wrote regularly for Punch, the Daily Mirror, and for the Daily Mail. His Daily Mirror column started in the Mirror Magazine, moving to the main newspaper on 22 June 1970,[2] on Mondays, and extending to Thursdays from 16 July 1970. Extracts from the columns were published in the books "Mondays, Thursdays" and "Rhubarb, Rhubarb and Other Noises".[3] His extended style book for the Daily Mirror, Waterhouse On Newspaper Style,[4] is regarded as a classic textbook for modern journalism. This was followed by a pocket book on English usage intended for a wider audience entitled English Our English (And How To Sing It).

He fought long crusades to highlight what he perceived to be a decline in the standards of modern English; for example, he founded the Association for the Abolition of the Aberrant Apostrophe, whose members attempt to stem the tide of such solecisms as "potatoe's" and "pound's of apple's and orange's" in greengrocers' shops.[5]

In February 2004 he was voted Britain's most admired contemporary columnist by the British Journalism Review.

On 4 September 2009, a statement released by his family announced that Waterhouse had died quietly in his sleep at his home in London; he was 80.[1]


  • There Is a Happy Land (1957) Reissued in 2013 by Valancourt Books
  • Billy Liar (novel) (1959) Reissued in 2013 by Valancourt Books
  • Jubb (1963)
  • The Bucket Shop (1968)
  • Everything Must Go (1969)
  • Mondays, Thursdays (1976)
  • Office Life (1978)
  • Maggie Muggins (1981)
  • In the Mood (1983)
  • Mrs. Pooter's Diary (1983)
  • Thinks (1984)
  • Waterhouse at Large (1985)
  • The Collected Letters of a Nobody (1986)
  • Our Song (play) (1988)
  • Bimbo (1990)
  • Unsweet Charity (1992)
  • Soho (2001)
  • Palace Pier (2003)
  • Billy Liar on the Moon (1975) Reissued in 2015 by Valancourt Books
  • City Lights: A Street Life
  • Good Grief
  • Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell
  • Life After City Lights
  • Streets Ahead
  • The Book of Useless Information
  • The Theory & Practice of Lunch
  • The Theory & Practice of Travel
  • Worzel Gummidge (with Willis Hall)


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Keith Waterhouse: Leeds author and playwright dies - Yorkshire Evening Post". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 4 September 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Daily Mirror". UKpressOnline. Retrieved 25 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Biography". Jrank Biography. Retrieved 25 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. A review and history of the book csn be found here
  5. Mount, Harry (24 August 2009). "Pedant's revolt! Misusing apostrophes is just ignorant and lazy". London: Mail Online. Retrieved 4 September 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links