Keith Johnson (author)

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Robert Keith Johnson (14 October 1938, Darlington), known as Keith Johnson, is a writer and software developer. While working as a science teacher he published his first work, starting his career as an author. Leaving classroom education in 1990 he concentrated on the development of software to support teaching and the writing of physics textbooks and associated materials.


Johnson attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Darlington (later Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College) from 1950–57,[1][2] before going on to study Physics at the University of Manchester.[3] From there, he taught at Urmston Grammar School and Wilbraham High School, where he was Physics teacher,[4] Head of Physics, Deputy Head,[5] Timetabler,[6] and Acting Headteacher. In 1980 Johnson was appointed District Inspector for Science for Manchester City Council Education Committee, with special responsibility for promoting science in Primary Schools. In 1990 he left this post to pursue his career as a full-time author of physics textbooks.


Johnson has written or co-written over 100 books[7][8][9] that have attracted many reviews in independent journals.[10][11][12]

His work 'Physics for You' was first published in 1978 and has been in print ever since.[12][13][14] He sold his millionth book in 1996 and his two-millionth in 2005.[15] He is also well known for the 'Spotlight Science' series.[7][16]

His books have been read and translated around the world including official translations into Chinese,[17] Thai,[18] Dutch,[19][20][21] Slovenian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Welsh and Norwegian.[22][23] It's probable that in total, between 15 and 20 million people have read his books.

Writing style

‘Physics for You’ included features which had not been seen before in UK Science textbooks for public examinations (such as GCE, GCSE).[11][16][24] It was the first to cover complete concepts in single- or double-page spreads[25][26] (previously textbooks had been written like novels with no attention to page-breaks); it was the first to have a controlled reading age (two years lower than the students' chronological age, as required by research on readability);[27] it was the first to aim for sculpted line-breaks at a natural pause (like a kind of invisible comma) rather than type-set right-justified text; it was the first to have designed variable white-space between paragraphs;[28] it was the first to include cartoons;[29][30][31] it was the first to include limericks and jokes;[32][33] it was the first to include sections on revision technique[25][34] and examination technique.[11][35]

His books on Physics have benefited students at all levels in secondary education.[11][36]


Johnson has developed software to support teachers in Secondary Schools in the UK and across the world,[37] including TimeTabler [38] which is a program to help timetablers to schedule their school timetables, Options,[39][40] StaffCover [41] and Lesson Loader.[42][43][44]

Other achievements

Johnson is an award-winning film director[45] recognised by the British Film Institute.[46][47]

He is an expert on Readability,[48] especially of school text books,[49][50] and has written articles on this subject for the School Science Review,[51][27][52] a journal of The Association for Science Education, and other publications.[53][54]

Personal life

Keith Johnson married his wife Ann, an artist, in 1962. They have 2 children and 3 grandchildren.[55]

He is a committed Francophile who divides his time between his homes in France and England.[56] He has written about the French Pyrenees[57] and contributed to the book 'Corsavy – Paysages & Visages'.[58]

In his spare time, he enjoys playing his guitars, filming, swimming, reading and speaking French, and riding off-road on his motorbike.


  1. "Queen Elizabeth GS 1954". 
  2. "Queen Elizabeth GS Prefects". 
  3. "Manchester University Distinguished Alumni". 
  4. "Wilbraham HS Physics teacher". 
  5. "Wilbraham HS Deputy Head". 
  6. "Wilbraham HS Timetabling". 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Secondary Catalogue". 2013. Nelson Thornes. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  8. "ISBN Database".  ISBN Book Database
  9. "Keith Johnson books on Amazon".
  10. School Science Review, Vol 68, No. 245, 789–790
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 "Reviews of Keith Johnson's Books". Keith Johnson. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Times Educational Supplement, 'Teacher', 29 April 2005, p15
  13. "Advanced Physics for you at Amazon". Nelson Thornes. 
  14. "Amazon Physics books".  at
  15. "Publishers' celebration 'Thanks a mi££ion!'". Stanley Thornes Publishers Journal, 1997 issue 11. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Books by Keith Johnson". 
  17. "P4U in China". 
  18. "P4U in Thailand". 
  19. "P4U in Netherlands #1". 
  20. "P4U in Netherlands #2". 
  21. "P4U in Netherlands #3". 
  22. "P4U in Norway #1". 
  23. "P4U in Norway #2". 
  24. "Readbility article". 
  25. 25.0 25.1 Association for Science Education : School Science Review, Vol 60, 1978, No 210, 192
  26. ISTA journal, Vol 37, 2002, No 2, 46
  27. 27.0 27.1 "School Science Review Article". School Science Review.  SSR Vol 60, No. 212, 1979, 562
  28. "Design of P4U". 
  29. Institute of Physics : Physics Education, Vol 13, 1978, 327
  30. Institute of Physics : Physics Education, Vol 14, 1979
  31. Times Educational Supplement, 21 March 1997, 31
  32. "Limericks".  in 'Physics for You'
  33. Journal of the Assistant Mistresses Association, Summer 1978, 72
  34. Association for Science Education : School Science Review, Vol 61, 1979, No 214, 188
  35. "Letters & Comments from readers".  for 'Physics for You'
  36. "Keith Johnson's writing; case study at".
  37. "Software comments & testimonials".  from around the world
  38. "TimeTabler software". 
  39. Haigh, Gerald. "Class 3F? For three hours? First thing Monday?". 12 May 2008. TSL Education Ltd. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  40. "Options software". 
  41. "StaffCover software". 
  42. "Lesson-Loader software". 
  43. "Lesson-Loader review".  Software Informer, 27 March 2013
  44. Association for Science Education : School Science Review, Vol 87, 2005, No 318, 126
  45. "Films by Keith Johnson".  synopsis and judges' comments
  46. "British Film Institute entry".  Work – 186608, British Film Institute
  47. "BFI 'Green Cloud' entry".  Green Cloud, director: R K Johnson
  48. "Readability methods". 
  49. "Readability of Secondary School textbooks". 
  50. "Readability of textbooks". 
  51. Association for Science Education : School Science Review, Vol 82, 2001, No 300, 75
  52. "School Science Review Article". School Science Review.  SSR Vol 68, No. 244, 1987, 565
  53. International Journal of Science Education, Vol 9, 1987, 4, 483
  54. Science Learning, Science Teaching : Wellington & Ireson : Routledge 2008, ISBN 9780415433938, p244
  55. "About Keith Johnson". 
  56. "Corsavy, French Pyrenees".  A history of Corsavy
  57. "Corsavy down the Ages". 
  58. "Corsavy – Paysages & Visages". Les Cahiers de l'Egaré.  Grosse Jean-Claude, Patot André, Johnson Keith, 2006. ISBN 2-908387-92-1

External links