Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Kenneth Williams Diaries” as Want to Read:
The Kenneth Williams Diaries
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Kenneth Williams Diaries

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  306 ratings  ·  25 reviews
For more than 40 years broadcaster and comedian Kenneth Williams kept a journal of his experiences. This book is a selection of these diaries.
Paperback, 827 pages
Published December 1st 1994 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 1981)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Kenneth Williams Diaries, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Kenneth Williams Diaries

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 519)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jul 10, 2008 Tosh rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Morrissey
Recommended to Tosh by: Morrissey via an interview in some British music paper
i just finished the Kenneth Williams diaries and what is amazing is that he barely acknowledges the 60's pop culture around him. No Stamp, a little bit of David Bailey, and almost no acknowledgement of The Beatles! His world had no rock n' roll, no hippies, no teddy boys, no mind-expanding drugs, and no free love His world was British variety music halls, radio shows, occasional TV appearance, Carry On film series, classical music (which he adored), Philosophy, and his hatred or unease with his ...more
David Rain
The English actor Kenneth Williams, best-known for his roles in the Carry On films, kept a diary from 1942 until his death, probably from suicide, in 1988. This book, a necessarily but expertly edited version, functions in effect as his autobiography. It’s astonishingly vivid, intimate and compelling. This is one of the best pictures we’ll ever have of an actor’s life, of the day-to-day realities of a long career. More than that, it’s funny: bitchily, brilliantly funny.

Kenneth Williams was fame
David Latham
What a great and tragic look into one of the greatest performers of the 20th century. He was known for making us laugh yet under the comical persona was a broken soul whose life was filled with pain and a longing to be loved. Which is a great shame because he was loved and admired by so many. Chronicling over 40 years of Kenneth William's life we get to see how he saw the world around him and how it changed and how he saw himself when we could only laugh. Its a momentous achievement to read and ...more
I’m so glad that I finally took the time to read the diaries that British comedian Kenneth Williams kept throughout his life. At 801 pages long, ‘The Kenneth Williams Diaries’ are not a quick read, but as you follow the actor from his adolescence through to his golden years, you really unravel the true Kenneth Williams, the sad clown behind the camera.

A truly encapsulating figure, this book delves firsthand into events that left their mark in British history and popular culture: the Second World
David Cheshire
The word used to describe Kenneth Williams on the blurb is, predictably, "outrageous." And he could be impossibly rude (in all senses), high-maintenance and difficult. But the surprise is that the Kenneth Williams of these diaries emerges as erudite, self-critical, tortured and a brilliantly sharp critic. Above all he is a brilliant diarist: honest, self-revealing and funny. His diaries give a truthful and compelling picture of a life and career in "the business", the Carry Ons, theatre (one ser ...more
Ian Ashley
I suppose anybody editing a lifetime collection of diaries faces a choice of how do I present this person and which extracts do I use? However hard that choice must be Russell Davies has edited the Kenneth Williams Diaries as objectively as you can considering the enigmatic nature of the subject.

You read this and get the impression that there is no agenda beyond presenting the subject to the world, it's fair, not always pleasant, often sad and sometimes downright hilarious.

Infact I've just fini
Richard Thomas
The real Kenneth Williams exposed in his diaries. In turn pathetic, angry, sensible and brighter than he gave himself credit for, these show him as he saw himself rather than the public persona.
Hilarious, bawdy, outrageous and tragic, an unvarnished insight into the fascinating and tortured life of a truly original talent.
"Infamy, infamy! They've all got it infamy." Too true, that was often Kenneth's view of the world, and he wrote most of it down in unflinching detail. An inspiration for fellow scribblers like myself (although I'm glad I don't note my "barclays" in my diary, all the same!) This took over a month to read, but I enjoyed it and it pleased me to see that a diary can be interesting in itself even when there's seemingly "nothing to report". Overall, it's reporting a life, and given it's the only one w ...more
I have certainly never read anything like it. It dawned on me that I have read someone's life (and not reading a properly written and edited autobiography). This collection of Kenneth's diary entries is fascinating. You never know what you will get with each daily entry because his personality is so volatile. One passage can seem like he is at the top of the world ... followed by suicidal pity the very next.

The one lesson that I walk away from (whether Kenneth would have agreed or not) is that
Kenneth Williams was famous in the UK for his multiple TV and film appearances, including many of the Carry On films. He kept voluminous diaries throughout his life, and they reveal a deeply conflicted, spiritual, arrogant, waspish man who could be his own worst enemy. He was obviously gay but mostly avowed celibacy. He resisted all offers to appear in the US, but his diaries offer a compelling look into the the English theater, movie, and television business as well as a look at his largely lon ...more
Fascinating, funny, but ultimately very, very depressing.
Rob Manwaring
Just started this - a birthday present. A narcissistic, self-hating, gay, hilarious, bilious, talented, contradictory, gorgeous, infuriating, Englishman. What more could you possibly want form a set of diaries? Russell Davies' introduction is penetrating (ooer) and insightful, and a real taster of hopefully what is to come. Impossible to write anything about Williams without double entrendres.
Pete Hardy
I couldn't finish this as you learn all you need to know about by the hundreth page. He was a very unhappy man and, to be fair, was as hard on himself (at times) than he could be on others. But his unmerited sense of superiority gets a bit wearing after a time so took it to a charity shop to share the misery.
Jane Macmullen
I found these fascinating although I felt uncomfortable reading them. Clearly they were not written for strangers to read and I felt rather like a voyeur, as if I was reading with the extreme disapproval of the author. Sorry Kenneth, I loved this book.
I've read this twice and was enthralled each time. If you're at all interested in Kenneth Williams, or the Carry-On scene then you must read this. He must surely be one of the most complex characters that has ever lived.
John Grinstead
A real insight into the mind of a really complex character; always felt that something better was around the corner yet remained unfulfilled both in terms of his acting and his relationships. Quite sad really.
Mike Jennings
A long, looong read.
I have to admit I became frustrated along the way (ooooer Matron!) but it gave me the peek inside his life that I wanted. Ironic that such a talent should reside in such a sad, unfulfilled man.
Waspish and tinged with tragedy, an extraordinary insight into a man unable to accept the flaws of those around him and seemingly disgusted by his own sexuality. Compelling.
Andrew Brown
Quick version: A real insight into Williams' life.

Longer version here:
Paul Doody
Astonishing account of a life - from the 1930s to the day of his death. Hugely rewarding and endlessly rereadable.
John Jones
Includes plenty of advice for those wishing to engage in a bit of boy love whilst wandering morrocco.
Rachael Singh
Deeply moving, absolutely hilarious, dripping with acid wit.
S.M. Mala
What a bitch but very funny with it.
Tom marked it as to-read
Nov 20, 2014
Annie marked it as to-read
Nov 12, 2014
Sweetestmoondust marked it as to-read
Nov 10, 2014
Mary marked it as to-read
Nov 07, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 17 18 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Orton Diaries
  • Writing Home
  • Insider
  • The Naked Civil Servant
  • Renegade
  • Siouxsie & the Banshees: The Authorised Biography
  • The Moon's a Balloon
  • Diaries: The Python Years, 1969-1979 (Palin Diaries, #1)
  • What’s Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion
  • Junk Mail
  • My Name Escapes Me: The Diary of a Retiring Actor
  • With Nails: The Film Diaries of Richard E. Grant
  • The Progressive Patriot
  • Diaries: 1983-1992
  • Forever In My Heart: The Story Of My Battle Against Cancer
  • Catherine the Great: Life and Legend
  • Taken on Trust: An Autobiography
  • Strange Places, Questionable People
Kenneth Williams was an English comic actor and comedian, star of 26 Carry On films, numerous British television shows, and radio comedies with Tony Hancock and Kenneth Horne.

His professional career began in 1948 in repertory theatre. Failure to become a serious dramatic actor disappointed him, but his potential as a comic performer gave him his break when he was spotted playing the Dauphin in Geo
More about Kenneth Williams...
Just Williams: An Autobiography The Kenneth Williams Letters The Complete Acid Drops Back drops: pages from a private diary How To Really Calculate In Your Head!

Share This Book