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News Geoffrey Whitehead obituary
My father, Geoffrey Whitehead, who has died aged 91, was a prolific author of school and college textbooks on business studies and related topics. Frustrated by the lack of a decent guide to help his O-level students learn bookkeeping, he took matters into his own hands and wrote Book-keeping Made Simple (1968), which was followed by almost 40 other titles. His books sold more than 5m over four decades. It seems likely that a generation of business students prepared for their careers with the guidance of at least one of his books.
Born in Muswell Hill, north London, he was one of four children from a family of educationists and musicians. During the second world war he was stationed with Bomber Command before being sent to Palestine to help prepare servicemen for their return to civilian life, teaching basic courses in English and maths. Once demobbed, he enrolled on the emergency teacher-training scheme, teaching in primary and secondary schools before eventually becoming head of professional studies at Thurrock College, Essex (now part of South Essex College).
His writing career began in 1967, when he was asked to review an American text on bookkeeping to assess its suitability for the UK market. His critical review was accompanied by the assertion that he could write a better book in his summer holiday. The publisher replied with a cheque for £5 for the review and a note to say they looked forward to receiving a manuscript in September. True to his word, Dad locked himself in the only quiet place he could find – the garage – and emerged six weeks later with a handwritten script, strung together with staples and green ties, which became Book-keeping Made Simple.
He gave up teaching to write full-time, becoming one of the original and most successful authors for the Made Simple series, publishing 12 titles. He also wrote books in other series, sometimes co-authored with colleagues he lured or cajoled into projects. His texts covered the business spectrum, from economics and accountancy to business law and international trade.
In spite of the tremendous pressure he put himself under to meet deadlines, he was a loving father and was revered by his large, extended family for his fundamental kindness and generosity of spirit. His beloved wife, Joan, whom he married in 1941, died in 2009. He is survived by five children – Pat, Jean, Paul, myself and Penny – 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.