Keith Waterhouse: 'Brilliant observer of late 20th century life'

Fleet Street veteran Keith Waterhouse has retired from his twice-weekly Daily Mail column after 23 years.

His decision to step down brings to an end a 60-year career in newspaper journalism. He started as a reporter on the Yorkshire Evening Post and spent 35 years at the Daily Mirror before joining the Mail in 1986.

In a 2004 poll of journalists by the British Journalism Review, Waterhouse – who has written more than 2,000 columns for the Mail – was named the runaway winner of best newspaper columnist.

In a tribute piece published in today’s paper, the Mail said Waterhouse had recently suffered ill health and was being cared for by his second ex-wife, Stella Bingham.

Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre said: “The phrase Fleet Street legend could have been invented for Keith.

“But he was much more than that. He was a chronicler and brilliant observer of late 20th century life, whose characters became part of our national psyche.

“It has been a privilege for the last 23 years to have such a legendary writer as part of the Daily Mail story. He will be massively missed.”

News of his retirement was first broken on Friday by Revel Barker on the Fleet Street nostalgia website, GentlemenRanters.com.

“When I said that he’d stopped writing, it wasn’t strictly accurate. Because he can’t stop,” Barker wrote.

“Every morning at sparrow’s he needs to be in his office (the word factory) sitting at his upright Adler (the lathe), banging out words on heavy keys because he hasn’t come to terms with such wonders as email.

“But what he has done, and what’s a loss to us all, is that after more than 60 years at it, he has stopped writing for newspapers.

“At 80, he is coy about his other plans and projects. As he told one interviewer: ‘There’s always tomorrow. At least, there always has been, so far.'”

In 2005 Waterhouse was named by Press Gazette as one of the 40 best journalists of the previous 40 years in National Newspapers Hall of Fame.

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