Toby Young

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Toby Young
Born Toby Daniel Moorsom Young
(1963-10-17) 17 October 1963 (age 58)
Buckinghamshire, UK
Occupation Journalist
Nationality British
Alma mater Brasenose College, Oxford
Notable works How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (2001)

Toby Young (born 17 October 1963) is a British journalist and educationalist. Young is the well-known author of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, the tale of his stint in New York as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine. He served as a judge in seasons five and six of the television show Top Chef [1] and co-founded the West London Free School.[2]


Born in Buckinghamshire, Young was brought up in Highgate, North London and in South Devon. His mother Sasha Moorsom was a BBC Radio producer, artist and writer,[3] and his father was Michael, Baron Young of Dartington, a Labour Life Peer and pioneering sociologist who coined the word "meritocracy".[4] Although technically allowed to use the title Hon. Toby Young,[5] he does not.[6]


Young was educated at Creighton School (now Fortismere School), Muswell Hill and King Edward VI Community College, Totnes. He left school at 16 with one Grade C GCE O-Level in English Literature and did menial jobs under a Government Workfare programme. He then retook his O-Levels and went to the Sixth Form of William Ellis School, Highgate, leaving with two Bs and a C at A-Level and managing to obtain a place at Brasenose College, Oxford. Young claims he was sent an acceptance letter by mistake. He had been given a conditional offer of three Bs under a scheme to give access to comprehensive pupils.[7][8][9]

He was awarded a First in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and, after a six-month period as a news trainee at The Times, became a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard University where he was a Teaching Fellow in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. This was followed by a two-year period at Trinity College, Cambridge where he worked as a teaching assistant in the Social and Political Sciences Faculty and carried out research for a doctorate that he did not complete.[10] He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the University of Buckingham and a Commissioner of the UK Fulbright Commission.


In 1991, Young co-founded and co-edited the Modern Review with Julie Burchill and her then husband Cosmo Landesman. Its motto was "Low culture for highbrows". Four years later the magazine was close to financial collapse and Young closed it down, angering his principal financial backer Peter York.[11] This decision led to a fierce public battle with Burchill and staff writer Charlotte Raven.[11]

Young moved to New York City shortly afterwards to work for Vanity Fair.[12] After being sacked by Vanity Fair in 1998, he stayed in New York for two more years, working as a columnist for the New York Press, before returning to the UK in 2000.

He is currently an associate editor of The Spectator, where he writes a weekly column, the editor of Spectator Life and a regular contributor to The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph. His Telegraph blog was long-listed for the 2012 George Orwell Prize for blogging.[13]

He has performed in the West End stage adaptation of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People and in 2005 he co-wrote (with fellow Spectator journalist Lloyd Evans) a sex farce about the David Blunkett/Kimberley Quinn intrigue and the "Sextator" affairs of Boris Johnson and Rod Liddle called Who's the Daddy?[14] It was named as the Best New Comedy at the 2006 Theatregoers' Choice Awards.[15]

From 2002 to 2007, Young wrote a restaurant column for the Evening Standard and later a restaurant column for The Independent on Sunday. In addition to serving as a judge on Top Chef, Young has competed in the Channel 4 TV series Come Dine with Me, appeared as one of the panel of food critics in the 2008 BBC Two series Eating with the Enemy and served as a judge on Hell's Kitchen.[16]

British producer Stephen Woolley and his wife Elizabeth Karlsen produced the film adaptation How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (2008) in conjunction with FilmFour. Young, who co-produced the film, was played by Simon Pegg.[17] It was released in Britain on 3 October 2008 and reached the number one spot at the box office in its opening week.[18][19]

Young co-produced and co-wrote When Boris Met Dave (2009), a drama-documentary for Channel 4 about the relationship between Eton and Oxford University contemporaries Mayor Boris Johnson and Conservative Party Leader PM David Cameron. It was first broadcast on More4 on 7 October 2009 and later shown on Channel 4.[20]

In addition to the book How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Young is the author of The Sound of No Hands Clapping (2006), How to Set Up a Free School (2011) and What Every Parent Needs to Know: How to Help Your Child Get the Most Out of Primary School (2014), which he co-wrote with Miranda Thomas.

Young attracted mild controversy in 2012 after he wrote an article criticising the emphasis on "inclusion" in state schools, with some people interpreting this as an attack on including disabled children in mainstream education. He denied this charge, citing a misunderstanding of what he meant by "inclusion".[21]

Young was the lead proposer and co-founder of the West London Free School, the first free school to sign a funding agreement with HM Education Secretary, and now serves as the CEO of the charitable trust that sits above the school.[22][23] The Trust opened a primary school in Hammersmith in 2013 and a second primary in Earls Court in 2014. Young is a follower of the American educationalist E.D. Hirsch and an advocate of a traditional, knowledge-based approach to education.[24]

Personal life

Young married Caroline Bondy in July 2001; the couple have four children.[25] Their eldest child began at the West London Free School in September 2014.[26]

See also


  1. "What's Cooking with Season 5 of Top Chef?" TV Guide. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  2. "What I Got Right and What I Got Wrong About Free Schools", Speech to the Marketing Society, 26 November 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  3. "Sasha Moorsom: 1931-1993", The Guardian, 1993. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  4. Michael Young "Down with meritocracy", The Guardian, 29 June 2001. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  5. Mosley, Charles (ed.) (1999). Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th edn. Burke's Peerage Ltd. p. 3093 (YOUNG OF DARTINGTON, LP). ISBN 2-940085-02-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "The office clown - By Toby Young". Retrieved 5 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Mikhailova, Anna (7 April 2013). "Fame and Fortune: How not to alienate the taxman". The Sunday Times. p. 8. Retrieved 8 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Oxford admissions rouse passion as two tribes war over 'unfairness'". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 3 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Young, Toby (11 September 2008). "Status Anxiety". The Spectator. Retrieved 3 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Can Toby Young's free school succeed?" The Guardian, 5 April 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2012
  11. 11.0 11.1 Lynn Barber "Forever Young", The Observer, 3 September 2006. Retrieved 23 June 2007.
  12. Alice Wyllie, "The master of foot-in-mouth syndrome - Toby Young interview", The Scotsman, 3 October 2008.
  13. "Telegraph Blogs: Toby Young", The Orwell Prize.
  14. Sarah Lyall "A very British 'documentary farce'", International Herald Tribune, 25 August 2005, reprinting a New York Times article. Retrieved 23 June 2007.
  15. "Toby Young". BBC News. 8 September 2006. Retrieved 22 October 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Archive of Toby Young's Restaurant Reviews", The Evening Standard.
  17. "Simon Pegg is Toby Young in How to Lose Friends adaptation", Empire, 14 August 2006. Retrieved 23 June 2007.
  18. "UK Box Office: 3-5 October 2008", BFI. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  19. "Ricky Gervais's clout at the UK box office is no lie", The Guardian, 6 October 2009. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  20. "Last Night's TV", The Times, 8 October 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  21. "My latest Spectator column - 1st July 2012"
  22. "Toby Young's battle to set up a new school", BBC2, 8 December 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
  23. Harrison, Angela (2 March 2011). "Free Schools: Toby Young's is first to get go ahead". Retrieved 14 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Prisoners of The Blob: Why most education experts are wrong about nearly everything", Civitas, April 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  25. Young, Toby (8 May 2011). "Toby Young: British women are the best". The Sunday Telegraph. London. Retrieved 8 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Whitworth, Damian (2 September 2014). "Toby Young – my daughter has to go to my school: she has no choice". The Times. London. Retrieved 8 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (subscription required)

External links