Anthony Howard (journalist)

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Anthony Michell Howard, CBE (12 February 1934 – 19 December 2010)[1] was a British journalist, broadcaster and writer. He was the editor of the New Statesman, The Listener and the deputy editor of The Observer. He selected the passages used in The Crossman Diaries, a book of entries taken from Richard Crossman's The Diaries of a Cabinet Minister.

Early life

Howard was the son of a Church of England clergyman, Canon Guy Howard and Janet Rymer.[2] He was educated at Purton Stoke School at Kintbury in Berkshire and Highgate Junior School, followed by Westminster School and Christ Church at the University of Oxford, where he read Jurisprudence.[3] In 1954, he was chairman of the Oxford University Labour Club and, the following year, President of the Oxford Union.[2]

Howard had planned a career as a barrister, having been called to the Bar (Inner Temple) in 1956. Meanwhile, he was fulfilling his National Service obligations in the army, during which he saw active service in the Royal Fusiliers during the Suez War. He wrote (initially unsigned)[4] articles for the New Statesman about his reluctant involvement in the conflict, an action for which he was almost court-martialled.[2]

First posts in journalism

Despite this early experience as a freelance contributor, he "stumbled" into his career as a journalist in 1958, beginning on Reynolds News as a political correspondent. Howard moved to the Manchester Guardian in 1959. The following year, he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship to study in the United States, though he remained on the Guardian’s staff.

Howard was political correspondent of the New Statesman from 1961 until 1964. An admirer of Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell during this period, he was a strong advocate of the democratic process:

In January 1965, Howard joined The Sunday Times as its Whitehall correspondent reporting on the activities of senior civil servants.[6] He saw his Whitehall brief as being in advance of the then current journalistic practices.[7] Cabinet Ministers were instructed by Prime Minister Harold Wilson's private secretary not to co-operate with Howard. Civil servants received similar instructions.[7] Phillip Knightley reported a conversation with Howard in 2003 in which Wilson had told Howard "he understood I was only trying to do my job but he had a job to do, too, and his was more important than mine. He made it very plain that all conventional sources of information would remain shut until I was willing to return to the cosy but essentially sham game of being a political correspondent."[8] Wilson is thought by journalist John Simpson to have had a preference for secrecy and to have been fearful that such a practice would give his enemies and rivals a potential outlet.[6]

Howard though, was soon invited to become The Observers chief Washington correspondent, serving in the role from 1966 to 1969, later contributing a political column (1971–72). During his period in America he made regular contributions to The World At One on Radio 4. "It got to where I was almost the World at One Washington correspondent", he once remarked.[9] He was though absent from his post when President Johnson announced he would not seek re-election in the Presidential election of 1968, which did not help relations with David Astor, then Observer editor.[2]

Editorial roles

As editor of the New Statesman (1972–78), succeeding Richard Crossman, whose deputy he had been (1970–72), he appointed Robin Cook as the magazine's parliamentary adviser in 1974,[10] (Cook also contributed articles), James Fenton, Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis[3] as literary editor in 1977. Future NS editor Peter Wilby, for whom Howard was a mentor, was a staff member during this period.[11]

Under Howard, the magazine published a rare non-British contributor: Gabriel García Márquez in March 1974, on the overthrow of Salvador Allende's elected government in Chile the previous September. Perhaps out of a sense of mischief, he featured a series of diatribes against the British Left, by the magazine's former editor Paul Johnson, a drinking companion and friend of Howard's, whose rightward drift was well advanced by then.[3] He also employed Auberon Waugh as a columnist.[2] Howard was unable to halt the magazine's fall in circulation, however.[12] He then edited The Listener for two years (1979–81).

Howard was deputy editor of The Observer (1981–88), where one of his journalist protégés was the journalist and (later) novelist Robert Harris, whom he appointed as the newspaper's political correspondent.[13] His professional relationship with the editor, Donald Trelford, ultimately broke down over allegations that Trelford had allowed the newspaper’s proprietor Tiny Rowland to interfere in editorial content. After leaving The Observer, following an ill-fated editorial coup against Trelford,[2] he was a reporter on Newsnight and Panorama (1989–92), having previously presented Channel Four’s Face the Press (1982–85). According to Charter88 founder Anthony Barnett he opposed the petition, and helped run the official committee dedicated to commemorating the 300th anniversary of the Glorious Revolution in 1988.[14]

Later career

His last editorial positions before turning freelance were at The Times as Obituaries editor (1993–99)[4] and chief political book reviewer (1990–2004), though he contributed opinion columns to the newspaper until September 2005, when his regular column was discontinued. Howard assisted long-standing friend Michael Heseltine[15] on his memoirs, Life in the Jungle: My Autobiography (2000),[16] and later published an official biography Basil Hume: The Monk Cardinal (2005).

Personal life

Howard married Carol Anne Gaynor, herself a journalist, in 1965. He was the lover of Corinna Ascherson (former wife of journalist Neal Ascherson) for several decades, but did not leave his wife.[17] Ascherson, who was also known as Corinna Adam, died in March 2012.[17][18]

Howard was awarded the CBE in 1997. He died in London, after surgery for a ruptured aneurysm.[19]


  1. Harry Wallop "Anthony Howard dies", Daily Telegraph (blog), 19 December 2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Obituary: Anthony Howard,, 20 December 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Peter Wilby Obituary: Anthony Howard, The Guardian, 20 December 2010
  4. 4.0 4.1 Michael Leapman "Anthony Howard: Journalist, broadcaster and writer, respected as one of the most astute political analysts of his generation", The Independent, 21 December 2010
  5. Ciar Byrne "The Indestructible Journos", The Independent, 12 June 2006. Retrieved on 20 October 2008.
  6. 6.0 6.1 John Simpson Unreliable Sources: How the 20th Century was Reported, London: Macmillan, 2010, p.437
  7. 7.0 7.1 Media: My Greatest Mistake: Anthony Howard, The Independent, 3 July 2003. Retrieved on 20 December 2010.
  8. Phillip Knightley "Of secrets and spies", The Independent on Sunday, 17 August 2003
  9. Quoted in Simon Elmes And Now on Radio 4, 2007, London: Random House, p.161
  10. Anthony Howard "Natural-born writer: Robin Cook: a tribute", New Statesman, 15 August 2005
  11. Wilby, Peter; Morris, Sophie (3 October 2005). "My Mentor". The Independent. Retrieved 23 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Julian Barnes "'Under the briskness, he was a softie'", The Observer, 26 December 2012
  13. Robert Harris "Anthony Howard: 'A wonderful combination of paradoxes'", Channel 4 News, 7 January 2011
  14. Anthony Barnett "Anthony Howard: Amanuensis to the old regime", Our Kingdom (Open Democracy website), 19 December 2010
  15. Helen Pidd "Anthony Howard dies", The Guardian, 20 December 2010
  16. Roy Hattersley "'A genuine radical who loved the business of politics'", The Observer, 26 December 2010
  17. 17.0 17.1 Pavan Amara "Rhyl Street flat blaze victim, Corinna Ascherson, an idealistic socialist once one half of ‘journalism’s golden couple’", Camden New Journal, 15 March 2012
  18. "Corinna Ascherson". The Times. 29 March 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (subscription required)
  19. "Political commentator Anthony Howard dies", BBC News, 19 December 2010


  • Richard Crossman (Anthony Howard (ed)) (1979) Diaries of a Cabinet Minister: Selections, 1964-70 Hamish Hamilton
  • Philip French & Michael Sissons (1963) The Age of Austerity Hodder & Stoughton [reprinted by OUP 1986 (contributed chapter "'We Are the Masters Now'" (on the Attlee government) pp. 1–20)]
  • Stephen Glover (ed) (1999) Secrets of the Press: Journalists on Journalism Allen Lane (reprinted as The Penguin Book of Journalism: Secrets of the Press Penguin 2000) contributed chapter "Dealing with Mr Murdoch" pp. 260–71)
  • Michael Heseltine (2000) Life in the Jungle: My Autobiography Hodder & Stoughton [acknowledged assistance]
  • Anthony Howard and Richard West (1965) The Making of the Prime Minister Jonathan Cape [USA edition: The Road to Number 10 Macmillan 1965]
  • Anthony Howard (1987) Rab: Life of R.A. Butler Jonathan Cape
  • Anthony Howard (1990) Crossman: The Pursuit of Power Jonathan Cape
  • Anthony Howard (ed) (1993) Lives Remembered: "Times" Obituaries, The Blewbury Press
  • Anthony Howard (2005) Basil Hume: The Monk Cardinal Headline Books ISBN 0-7553-1247-3
  • John Raymond (ed) (1960) The Baldwin Age, Eyre & Spottiswoode [contributor]
  • Anthony Howard tells his life story at Web of Stories

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Richard Crossman
Editor of the New Statesman
Succeeded by
Bruce Page
Preceded by
John Cole
Deputy Editor of The Observer
Succeeded by
Adrian Hamilton