Deric Longden

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Deric Longden
Born Deric Longden
29 November 1936
Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Died 22 June 2013 (aged 77)[1]
Occupation Writer, screenwriter
Nationality British
Genre Autobiography
Notable works Lost For Words
Children 1 son, 1 daughter, 4 stepchildren

Deric Longden (29 November 1936 – 22 June 2013) was an English writer and autobiographer.

Longden was born at Chesterfield, Derbyshire.[2] He married Diana Hill in 1957 and had two children.[2] After various jobs he took over a small women's lingerie factory, but began writing and broadcasting in the 1970s for programmes like Does He Take Sugar? and Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[2] Most of his work was based on his own experience.[2] His wife Diana's illness, subsequently believed to be a form of myalgic encephalomyelitis, forced him to sell the factory. Afterwards, he worked as a full-time writer, broadcaster and speaker.[2]

The bestselling Diana’s Story, published in 1989, was followed by Lost for Words, The Cat Who Came in from the Cold, I’m a Stranger Here Myself, Enough to Make a Cat Laugh, A Play On Words and Paws in the Proceedings.

Deric Longden's first two books were adapted for television, the first retitled Wide-Eyed and Legless.[2] The second, Lost for Words, was screened in January 1999 and won the Emmy for best foreign drama and a BAFTA for Thora Hird as best actress.[2]

After the death of Diana, he married writer Aileen Armitage in 1990 and they moved to Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.[2]

Deric Longden died of cancer of the oesophagus on Saturday 22 June 2013. He was survived by his wife, children, and granddaughter.[1]


  • Diana's Story (1989) described life with his rapidly deteriorating wife, who was suffering from an illness that doctors could not understand. The book was adapted for TV in 1993 under the title Wide-Eyed and Legless starring Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent and Thora Hird.[2] Longden co-wrote the script with Jack Rosenthal.[2] In America this was shown under the title The Wedding Gift.
  • Lost For Words (1991) continued the story of Deric's life, describing life with his eccentric mother as she gradually loses her memory. This was also made into a TV movie of the same title starring Thora Hird, but this time with Pete Postlethwaite in the main role.[2] Longden also wrote the script for this.[2] He has a cameo as a voice on an answerphone.[3]

Longden's other books describe life with his near-blind second wife Aileen Armitage, also a best-selling author, and their cats:

  • The Cat Who Came in from the Cold (1991) introduces kitten Thermal.
  • I'm a Stranger Here Myself' (1994) concerns Deric and Aileen's move to Huddersfield.
  • Enough to Make a Cat Laugh (1996)
  • A Play on Words (2000) describes the making of the TV movies of Diana's Story and Lost For Words, and Longden's reactions to seeing actors play himself and his mother. He wrote how Thora Hird's performance was so powerfully convincing that his memory ended up confusing the two.
  • Paws in the Proceedings (2007)


  1. ^ a b Kilcommons, Denis (25 June 2013). "Obituary:Deric Longden". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Staff writer (4 July 2013). "Deric Longden: Deric Longden, who has died aged 76, wrote books that brought a gentle and life-enhancing humour to the problems of living with disability.". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  3. ^

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