Chiswick Author’s Account of a Family Torn Apart by Mental Illness

Sunday Express Editor Martin Townsend tells his heartrending story

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"Sad, even tragic, but leavened with such affection and humour that laughter keeps breaking through the tears." Terry Wogan.


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Chiswick resident and Sunday Express editor, Martin Townsend, recently published his first book which has been hailed as a personal, tender account of a close family nearly torn apart by mental illness.

The father and son bond is arguably the most complex of all family relationships. But how do you handle circumstances when your dad is a manic-depressive who paints the front door in the middle of the night and sends good wishes to Michael Crawford scrawled on a pair of underpants?

Martin Townsend grew up with a father, Ron, who had suffered recurring mental illness since the early 1950s. At the smallest emotional trigger he could turn from compassionate and loving dad to a restless dead-eyed depressive or a spiteful bullying monster.

In The Father I Had, Martin Townsend, paints a bravely powerful, often painful portrait of life with his dad. From the soaring, often hilarious “highs” to the horrific “lows” of his father's three suicide attempts, he tells a story of pain, courage and resilience and produces a moving and marvellously written account of a childhood touched by madness.

Martin Townsend has been a journalist since 1979. He worked at Today newspaper and, at twenty-five, became the youngest regular columnist in national newspapers. He worked at You magazine at the Mail on Sunday as a showbusiness editor before joining the staff of celebrity weekly OK! where he became editor in 1998.

He has been editor of the Sunday Express since 2001 and is author of a highly popular weekly column, A Word From the Editor.

Martin is married with three children and lives in Grove Park.

The Father I had is published to coincide with National Depression Week 2007 which begins on 16th April.

April 13, 2007