Jeremy Lewis

David Astor
  • David Astor

  • 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.

A former publisher and the deputy editor of the Oldie, Jeremy Lewis has written three volumes of autobiography and biographies of Cyril Connolly, Tobias Smollett and Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin Books. Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family, was published by Cape in 2010.