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16 September 1938 |
David Benedictus (born 16 September 1938) is an English-Jewish writer and theatre director, best known for his novels. His most recent work is the Winnie-the-Pooh novel Return to the Hundred Acre Wood (2009). It was the first such book in 81 years.
He was educated at Eton College, Oxford and the University of Iowa. His first novel The Fourth of June was a best seller and he adapted it for the London stage. It has been republished by Valancourt Books. His second novel, You're a Big Boy Now, was made into a 1966 feature film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. He was an assistant to Trevor Nunn at the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has also worked as a commissioning editor for Drama at Channel 4, and ran the Book at Bedtime series for BBC Radio 4.
He previously wrote and produced audio readings of the Pooh stories, with Judi Dench as Kanga and Geoffrey Palmer as Eeyore. He sent the trustees of the A. A. Milne estate two sample stories of his sequel, and it took more than eight years for them to approve the project. Although he made some changes in the popular children's series by adding a new figure: Lottie, the Otter. David Benedictus said that he would be on the alert if Disney showed any sign of including an otter in the new Winnie the Pooh films.
Upon the book's publication he admitted to nerves over its reception, saying, "What's the worst thing that can happen, that I'll be torn apart by wild journalists? Happened before and I survived. At worst everyone will hate me and I'll just crawl under a bush and hide – I can live with that. Some people do hate the whole idea of a sequel, but it's not as if I'm doing any damage to the original, that will still be there. My hope is that people will finish reading a cracking story and just want more of them, and that's where I come in." Michael Brown, chairman of the Pooh Properties Trust, said Benedictus had a "wonderful feel" for the world of Pooh. However, Publishers Weekly was cool on the book, describing it as "largely forgettable" and as missing "the charm of the first book".
According to an interview he gave to the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot in 2009, he claimed that his cousin did research into his surname and found out that it was actually "Baruch" (ברוך - meaning same as "Benedictus" in Hebrew), as well as research into how his ancestors came to Britain, which revealed that they have Ashkenazi heritage.
He published an autobiography, Dropping Names, in 2005.
He is fond of chess and plays for a South London chess club. He also invented Uncle Ernie's System for finding winners at the races, and ran it for some 20 years before handing it on.
Benedictus commented on his work in 1985, "Given peace of mind, financial independence, and a modicum of luck, I may produce a novel to be proud of one day."/ In March, 2014, he moved to Hove, a resort on the south coast, to be close to his extending family. He has four children, Jolyon, a tax lawyer, Leo a journalist and novelist (The Afterparty, his first novel, was published by Jonathan Cape to great acclaim), Chloe a psychodynamic psychotherapist, and Jessica, a theatre producer.
- The Fourth of June (1962)
- You're a Big Boy Now (1963)
- This Animal is Mischievous (1965)
- Hump; or Bone By Bone Alive (1967)
- The Guru and the Golf Club (1969)
- World of Windows (1971)
- Junk!: How and Where to Buy Beautiful Things for Next to Nothing (1976)
- The Rabbi's Wife (1977)
- A Twentieth Century Man (1978)
- Lloyd George: A Novel (1981, from the screenplay of a BBC miniseries by Elaine Morgan)
- The Antique Collector's Guide (1981)
- Whose Life is it Anyway? (1982, from the play by Brian Clark)
- Local Hero (1983, from the screenplay by Bill Forsyth)
- Essential Guide to London (1984)
- Floating Down to Camelot (1985)
- Little Sir Nicholas (1990, with C. A. Jones)
- Odyssey of a Scientist (1991, with Hans Kalmus)
- Sunny Intervals and Showers: A Very British Passion (1992)
- The Stamp Collector (1994)
- What to Do When the Money Runs Out (2001, with Rupert Belsey)
- Dropping Names (2005)
- Return to the Hundred Acre Wood (2009)
- "David Benedictus author profile". Egmont Publishing. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
- Kennedy, Maev (4 October 2009). "Pooh sequel returns Christopher Robin to Hundred Acre Wood". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 October 2009.
- Lee, Felicia (4 October 2009). "The Same Pooh Bear, but an Otter Has Arrived". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
- "Return to the Hundred Acre Wood". Retrieved 5 January 2015.
- Kirkpatrick, D. L.; Vinson, James. Contemporary Novelists (1986), p. 93.