Former reporter from Woodford Green who was “born to write” turns his attentions to his own life

An 86-year-old former journalist from Woodford Green who was “born to write” and who penned 6,000 theatre notices has turned his attentions to his own life.

Don Hatwell, who has lived in Woodford Green for over 50 years, visited The Village Bookshop in High Road on Saturday to sign copies of his autobiography Reporting A Life.

It traces his life from his childhood home in Whalebone Grove, Chadwell Heath, to spending about 35 years as both the London editor and theatre critic of the Bristol Evening Post.

Mr Hatwell, who has two daughters, said: “Journalism brought me into contact with a lot of people. I went to places abroad and I love London.

“And I could take my wife to the theatre with me.

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“The signing was successful and the book seems to be selling through Amazon.”

Having gone to the Royal Liberty School for Boys in Romford, Mr Hatwell started work at the Romford Times before serving in both the navy and army during the Second World War.

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He returned to the paper following the war, before moving onto the Bristol title.

Working out of their London office, he covered news in the capital and reviewed shows from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden to the Theatre Royal Stratford East.

He said: “The theatre was my speciality.

“I reviewed three to four shows a week.

“Starting at 8.30am, it was a long day.”

He also expressed his own love of music by supporting the Woodford Music Society in putting on six chamber concerts a year at Sir James Hawkey Hall in Broomhill Road, Woodford Green.

Contributing programme notes and displays, he helped to put on shows which included the Amadeus Quartet, pianist John Ogdon and singer Emma Kirkby.

About the book, which includes examples of his theatre notices, he said: “I enjoyed the writing.

“That’s what I was born to do.”

It can be bought at or

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