Simon Sebag Montefiore

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Simon Sebag-Montefiore in 2010.

Simon Jonathan Sebag Montefiore (/ˌsmən ˌsbæɡ ˌmɒntfiˈɔːri/; born 27 June 1965) is a British journalist, historian, television presenter and award-winning author of popular history books.[1]


Montefiore was born in London. His father was Stephen Eric Sebag Montefiore and his brother is Hugh Sebag-Montefiore. They are descended from a line of wealthy Sephardi Jews who were diplomats and bankers all over Europe and who originated from Morocco and Italy. At the start of the 19th century, his great-uncle, Sir Moses Montefiore, became a banking partner of N M Rothschild & Sons.

His mother, Phyllis April Jaffé, comes from a Lithuanian Jewish family of scholars. Her parents fled the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 20th century. They bought tickets for New York City, but were cheated, being instead dropped off at Cork, Ireland. Due to the Limerick Boycott in 1904 his grandfather Henry Jaffé left the country and moved to Newcastle, England, but his great-grandfather (Marcus Jaffé) and his great-great-grandfather (Benjamin Jaffé) remained in Limerick.

Early life

Montefiore was educated at Ludgrove School,[citation needed] Harrow School, and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he read history.[2] He won an Exhibition to Caius College, but he was "a terrible disappointment" academically and didn't get a First. "I didn't do a day's work the whole time I was there. I don't know what came over me. I spent a lot of time just chatting. Terrible."[3] He went on to work as a banker and foreign affairs journalist.[4]

Writing career

Montefiore's books have been world best-sellers, published in 33 languages. His first history book, Catherine the Great & Potemkin, was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson, Duff Cooper, and Marsh Biography Prizes.[2] Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar won the now defunct History Book of the Year at the 2004 book publishing industry British Book Awards.[5] Young Stalin won the LA Times Book Prize for Best Biography,[6] the Costa Book Award,[7] the Bruno Kreisky Award for Political Literature,[2] the Prix de la Biographie Politique[8] and was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize;[9] Miramax Films and Ruby Films have bought the rights and are currently developing a movie based on it.[10]

His novel, Sashenka, set in twentieth-century Russia, appeared in 2008. His latest history book is Jerusalem: the Biography, a fresh history of the Middle East.[8] He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Personal life

He lives in London with his wife, the novelist Santa Montefiore, and their two children.[2] His father-in-law is the Anglo-Argentine landowner Charles Palmer-Tomkinson, and his sister-in-law is the socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.[11] His friends include Prince Charles, British prime minister David Cameron and Koo Stark.[4]


Non Fiction
  • Jerusalem: The Biography, 2011 ISBN 978-0-297-85265-0
  • 101 World Heroes, 2009
  • Monsters – History's most evil men and women, 2008
  • Young Stalin, 2007
  • Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, 2005, 2004 ISBN 1-4000-4230-5 ISBN 978-1400042302
  • Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner, 2005
    Catherine the Great and Potemkin, 2004
  • Speeches that Changed the World: The Stories and Transcripts of the Moments that Made History, 2008, 2007
    Speeches that Changed the World, 2007
  • Piggy Foxy and the Sword of Revolution: Bolshevik Self-Portraits (Annals of Communism Series) with Alexander Vatlin, Larisa Malashenko and Vadim A. Staklo, 2006
  • A History of Caucasus, 2005 ISBN 0-297-81925-9 ISBN 978-0297819257
  • One Night in Winter, 2013
  • Sashenka, 2008
  • My Affair with Stalin, 2004
  • King's Parade, 1992


  • Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City 3 part series 8 December 2011 – 23 December 2011
  • Rome: A History of the Eternal City 3 part series 5 December - 19 December 2012
  • Byzantium: A Tale of Three Cities 3 part series 5 December 2013 – 19 December 2013
  • Blood and Gold: The Making of Spain 3 part series 8 December 2015 - 22 December 2015 (BBC Four TV)


  • Speeches that Changed The World


Notes and references

External links