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Spencer Johnson, author of Who Moved My Cheese? dies at 78

Spencer Johnson, who wrote international best-sellers Who Moved My Cheese? and The One Minute Manager, died of pancreatic cancer in San Diego, US.

books Updated: Jul 20, 2017 11:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Dr Spencer Johnson,Who Moved My Cheese?,The One Minute Manager

American writer Dr Spencer Johnson, author of international best-sellers Who Moved My Cheese? and The One Minute Manager, died of pancreatic cancer in San Diego, US, on Monday. He was 78.

Johnson, who grew up in Los Angeles and studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland, forayed into writing in the 80s with children’s books. He co-wrote books about historical personalities like Confucious, Christopher Columbus and Winston Churchill with his first wife Ann Donegan.

At a party, he met business consultant Ken Blanchard and eventually the two decided to co-author The One Minute Manager (1982). The slim 100-page book on efficient management was first self-published. After it sold over a 1,000 copies, the two authors struck a deal with New York publisher William Morrow & Company. To-date it has sold over 15 million copies according to the Los Angeles Times.

Johnson’s parable about accepting change Who Moved My Cheese? was published in 1998 and became an instant best-seller. It tells the story of two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two people, Hem and Haw, who scavenge for cheese in a maze. It has sold 28 million copies worldwide, says The New York Times.

A doctor by education, Johnson found his calling while working for a medical device manufacturer. Using his medical expertise, he used to write short books simplifying technical information for customers. It was at this job that he discovered his love for writing and soon began writing for children.

Throughout his career and despite all the fame, the author avoided publicity. He was even against putting his pictures on his book jackets. According to the Los Angeles Times, Johnson once told his agent, “When a person picks up one of my books and starts reading it, I want the relationship between them and the words to be private. A photo of me is a distraction.”

Patrick Spencer Johnson was born on November 24, 1938, in Watertown, San Diego. His father was a builder and his mother, a teacher. He returned to San Diego six months back while undergoing cancer treatment.

He is survived by his sons Christian, Austin, Emerson. Another son, Constance, died in 1990. Johnson’s second wife Lesley Bostridge died in 2009.

First Published: Jul 08, 2017 12:49 IST