Search - List of Books by William Donaldson

Charles William Donaldson (4 January 1935 - 22 June 2005) was an English satirist, writer, playboy and, under the pseudonym of Henry Root, author of The Henry Root Letters.

Donaldson enjoyed a privileged upbringing in Sunningdale, Berkshire as the son of a shipping magnate. He was educated at Winchester College, and during his national service he met Julian Mitchell who introduced him to art galleries. Donaldson discovered prostitutes himself. While studying English at Magdalene College, Cambridge, he was orphaned and inherited a substantial fortune. He spent some of that inheritance supporting young writers such as his contemporaries Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.

On graduation, Donaldson became associated with the set surrounding Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon and worked as a theatrical producer. He married Sonia Avory in 1957 and she bore him his only child, Charlie. However, a sequence of affairs followed, including liaisons with Sarah Miles and Jacki Ellis, the wife of Jeffrey Bernard. He established himself as a central player in the UK satire boom of the early 1960s as co-producer, with Donald Albery, of Beyond the Fringe (1960), and of dramatisations of J. P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man (1959) and Spike Milligan's The Bed-Sitting Room (1963). The pair earned a weekly 2,000 from Fringe when the principal performers, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller, were earning only 75.

However, he managed, not for the last time, to squander his fortune. Apart from supporting a debauched lifestyle of prostitutes and recreational drug use, he underwrote Bob Dylan's disastrous British debut at Peter Cook's Establishment Club. He abandoned Sarah Miles for Carly Simon whom he described as "the answer to any sane man's prayers; funny, quick, erotic, extravagantly talented" but this did not prevent him from jilting her once they were engaged. In 1968, he inherited another fortune and married Claire Gordon, the couple becoming the epitome of 1960s Swinging London. Donaldson later remembered "sex, whether in company or not, has been the only department in life in which I have demanded from anyone taking part the very highest standards of seriousness."

In 1971, Donaldson left for Ibiza where he imprudently spent his last 2,000 on a glass-bottomed boat. Before long he was scavenging for food on the beach. Returning to London, he found refuge with a former girlfriend who was running a brothel on the Fulham Road. His experiences there formed the basis of his first novel Both the Ladies and the Gentlemen (1975).

However, it was to be his fictional correspondent Henry Root that made him a final fortune. Root's satirical lampooning of the wealthy, famous and influential was retold in the books:
  • The Henry Root Letters (1980),
  • The Further Letters of Henry Root (1980),
  • Henry Root’s World of Knowledge (1982),
  • Henry Root’s A-Z of Women: "The Definitive Guide" (1985),
  • The Soap Letters (1988),
  • Root into Europe (1992), and
  • Root about Britain (1994).
He lived at Elm Park Mansions on Park Walk, Chelsea, from which all the Root letters were sent.

His biographical survey of roguish Britons through the ages, Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics (2002) has been described as a triumph of misdirected scholarship.

The phenomenal success of the books, especially the first, enabled Donaldson to resume his chaotic lifestyle and in the 1990s he became addicted to crack cocaine. He was survived by his third wife Cherry Hatrick.

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Total Books: 60
Word and Spirit The Vital Partnership in Christian Leadership
2011 - Word and Spirit the VItal Partnership in Christian Leadership (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781841018256
ISBN-10: 1841018252
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Transmission of Power by Fluid Pressure Air and Water
2010 - Transmission of Power By Fluid Pressure Air and Water (Paperback)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9781141481101
ISBN-10: 1141481103
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Modern Hot Water Heating Steam and Gas Fitting
2010 - Modern Hot Water Heating Steam and Gas Fitting (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781151745712
ISBN-10: 1151745715
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The Queen Martyr And Other Poems
2009 - The Queen Martyr and Other Poems [1867] (Hardcover)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9781120063564
ISBN-10: 1120063566
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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A Treatise on the Art of Constructing Oblique Arches with Spiral Courses
2009 - A Treatise on the Art of Constructing Oblique Arches with Spiral Courses (Paperback)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9781113337504
ISBN-10: 1113337508
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Switches And Crossings Formula For Ascertaining The Angles Of Crossings The Lengths Of Switches And The Distances Of The Points Of The Crossings
New Formulas For The Loads And Deflections Of Solid Beams And Girders
2009 - New Formulas for the Loads and Deflections of Solid Beams and Girders [1872] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781104196950
ISBN-10: 1104196956
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Principles of Construction and Efficiency of Water-Wheels
2008 - Principles of Construction and Efficiency of Water-wheels (Paperback)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780559516535
ISBN-10: 0559516533
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Willie Donaldson's Rogues Villains and Eccentrics An A-Z of Roguish Britons Through the Ages
Principles Of Construction And Efficiency Of Water Wheels
2008 - Principles of Construction and Efficiency of Water Wheels [1876] (Paperback)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9781437038347
ISBN-10: 1437038344
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The Dictionary of National Celebrity A Who's Who of Today's Celebrity Culture - From C-List to Z-List
Pipers A Guide to the Players And Music of the Highland Bagpipe
2005 - Pipers a Guide to the Players and Music of the Highland Bagpipe (Paperback)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9781841584119
ISBN-10: 1841584118
Genre: Humor & Entertainment
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Brewer's Rogues Villains  Eccentrics
2002 - Brewer's Rogues VIllains Eccentrics (Hardcover)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780304357284
ISBN-10: 0304357286
Genres: History, Reference
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The Complete Henry Root Letters
2001 - The Complete Henry Root Letters [Common Reader Editions] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781888173000
ISBN-10: 1888173009
Genre: Humor & Entertainment
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
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The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society 1750-1950
1999 - The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society 1750-1950 (Hardcover)Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9781862320758
ISBN-10: 1862320756
Genres: History, Humor & Entertainment
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From Winchester to This
1999 - From Winchester to This (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780720610635
ISBN-10: 072061063X
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction
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Is This Allowed
1988 - Is This Allowed (Paperback)Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9780708837436
ISBN-10: 0708837433
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Great Disasters of the Stage
1985 - Great Disasters of the Stage (Paperback)Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9780099406709
ISBN-10: 0099406705
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Nicknames Only
1985 - Nicknames Only (Hardcover)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780356109848
ISBN-10: 0356109844
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English Way of Doing Things
1984 - English Way of Doing Things (Hardcover)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780297783459
ISBN-10: 0297783459
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Both the Ladies and the Gentlemen
1975 - Both the Ladies and the Gentlemen (Hardcover)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780900735356
ISBN-10: 090073535X
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1918 - How to Be Right [Hum] (Paperback)