Author and playwright David Benedictus dies aged 85

Author and playwright David Benedictus has died suddenly at the age of 85, his family has said.

The writer was best known for novels including the Eton-set The Fourth Of June, which he adapted into a West End play, and You’re A Big Boy Now, which was turned into a 1966 film directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

He also wrote the 2009 Winnie The Pooh book Return To The Hundred Acre Wood, a sequel to The House at Pooh Corner and the first Pooh book since 1928.

Benedictus previously wrote and produced an audio adaptation of AA Milne’s Winnie The Pooh stories in the 1990s, which inspired him to write two Pooh short stories of his own, which he submitted to the trustees of the Milne estate.

David Benedictus (Family handout)

He wrote more than 20 other books, including the Cambridge-set Floating Down To Camelot and his memoir Dropping Names.

The author also earned fame with his guide to winning at the racetrack, Uncle Ernie’s System, which ran to 38 editions.

Benedictus worked extensively for the BBC on its drama and entertainment programmes, working as editor of readings for BBC Radio from 1989 to 1995.

He has also produced music programmes for Radio 2, including a series on film music.

His family has remembered him as “a gifted chess player, an enthusiastic pianist and creative parker,” adding: “David overflowed with optimism, generosity and fun.

“Up to the end, he was still full of projects, including his unstaged musical, The Happy Hypocrite, and a series he dreamed of recording about his years at the BBC.

“When asked how he was doing, he always said: ‘As well as I deserve.’ And his final tip in the Grand National romped home at 16 to 1.”

Benedictus is survived by his four children, including the barrister Jolyon Maugham, son Leo, and daughters Chloe and Jessica, and his six grandchildren, as well as his former wife Yvonne Antrobus.

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