> Skip to content

An exceptional biography of that rarest of creatures – a really good man

Few newspaper editors are remembered beyond their lifetimes, but David Astor is a great exception to the rule. Growing up surrounded by astonishing wealth (the family home was so large it included a miniature railway to transport meals to the dining room) Astor’s early life was far from idyllic. At Oxford he suffered the first of the bouts of depression that were to blight his life, and he became a lost soul for much of the Thirties but when he took the Observer on in 1948 he converted a staid Sunday paper into essential reading. Employing the likes of Kim Philby, Vita Sackville-West, Clive James and Patrick O’Donovan (who became famous for writing his report on Bobby Kennedy’s funeral before it had taken place) he doubled the circulation and created a paper envied and admired.

Reviews

Jeremy Lewis has written a definitive account of Astor and his world.

Robert McCrum, Observer

Lewis’s affectionate and endearing biography is also a nostalgic celebration of the liberal intelligentsia and metropolitan elite…from the 1940s to the 1970s. There are many rewards in this book, which is full of old Fleet Street gossip, big names and good jokes.

Richard Davenport-Hines, The Times

Jeremy Lewis’s excellent new bio­graphy brings out both sides of this complex figure, tracing the contradictions of his character to his privileged but painfully conflicted upbringing… He gives a marvellous description of the golden age of the Observer.

John Campbell, Financial Times

A fascinating, well-written and brilliantly researched account…. The book is a great achievement.

Piers Brendon

Excellent new biography.

Richard Astor, Observer

Admiring yet fair biography… Gripping.

Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph

A lively, gossipy and affectionate biography.

The Economist

Astor at last gets the posthumous recognition he deserves.

Oldie

Jeremy Lewis brilliantly analyses the extraordinary family background and Astor’s won personality and manner.

Peter Wilby, New Statesman

He [Lewis] masters several complex strands of material, writing confidently and entertainingly, while leaving Astor’s halo justifiably intact.

Andrew Lycett, Spectator

Beautifully written… Lewis brilliantly evokes the golden age of a long-vanished Fleet Street.

Rebecca Wallersteiner, Lady

Marvellous biography… Lewis Portrays Astor as a gifted amateur… This meticulously researched book takes us back to a lost age.

Stephen Glover, Oldie

Lewis is an indefatigable, sharp-eyed researcher… With the publication of this book, David Astor the Editor is well celebrated. As a biographer, Jeremy Lewis is informative, entertaining and fair-minded.

Anne Chisholm, Times Literary Supplement

Perceptive and absorbing biography.

Ian Jack, London Review of Books

[A] vivid, insightful and sometimes very funny biography… Essential reading, not just for present and aspiring editors, but for anybody who cares about newspapers.

Peter Wilby, New Statesman

Shot through with a magnificent sly humour.

Roger Lewis, The Times

[It] is well researched and an absorbing read.

Guardian, Book of the Year

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099552123

    March 15, 2017

    Vintage

    432 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Hardback

    9780224090902

    March 15, 2016

    Jonathan Cape

    432 pages

    RRP $55.00

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781409029472

    March 3, 2016

    Vintage Digital

    432 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo