Tina Brown

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Tina Brown
Tina Brown at FT Spring Party crop.jpg
Brown in 2012
Christina Hambley Brown

(1953-11-21) 21 November 1953 (age 68)
Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, UK
Alma materSt Anne's College, Oxford
OccupationJournalist, magazine editor, columnist, talk-show host, author
(m. 1981; died 2020)

Christina Hambley Brown, Lady Evans[1] CBE (born 21 November 1953), is an English journalist, magazine editor, columnist, talk-show host, and author of The Diana Chronicles (2007) a biography of Diana, Princess of Wales, The Vanity Fair Diaries (2017)[2][3][4] and The Palace Papers (2022).[5] Born a British citizen, she now holds joint citizenship after she took United States citizenship in 2005, following her emigration in 1984 to edit Vanity Fair.

Having been editor-in-chief of Tatler magazine at the age of 25 in London, she edited Vanity Fair from 1984 to 1992 and The New Yorker from 1992 to 1998. She was founding editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, serving from 2008 to 2013.

As an editor, she has received four George Polk Awards, five Overseas Press Club awards, and ten National Magazine Awards.[6] In 2000, she was appointed a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for her services to overseas journalism,[7] and in 2007 was inducted into the Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame.[8]

She edited Newsweek from 2011 to 2012. In 2010 she founded live journalism platform Women in the World, which she ran until 2020.

Early life and education

Tina Brown was born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, and grew up in the village of Little Marlow, in Buckinghamshire.[9] Her father, George Hambley Brown, was active in the British film industry as a producer, including the Miss Marple films starring Margaret Rutherford. Her elder brother, Christopher Hambley Brown, became a film producer.[9] Her mother, Bettina Kohr, who married George Brown in 1948, was an executive assistant to Laurence Olivier on his first two Shakespeare films. Bettina was of part Iraqi descent; Tina recounted, "She was dark and I never knew why."[10]

In Brown's own words she was considered "an extremely subversive influence"[11] as a child, resulting in her expulsion from three boarding schools. Offences included organising a demonstration to protest against the school's policy of allowing a change of underwear only three times a week, referring to her headmistress's bosoms as "unidentified flying objects" in a journal entry, and writing a play about her school being blown up and a public lavatory being erected in its place.[11]

Brown entered the University of Oxford at the age of 17.[12] She studied at St Anne's College, and graduated with a BA in English Literature. As an undergraduate, she wrote for Isis, the university's literary magazine, to which she contributed interviews with the journalist Auberon Waugh and the actor Dudley Moore.[13] Brown wrote for the New Statesman while she was still an undergraduate at Oxford. Her friendship with Waugh served as a boost to her writing career, as he used his influence to ensure that her ability was recognised. Later, she went on to date the writer Martin Amis.[14][better source needed]

While still at Oxford, she won The Sunday Times National Student Drama Award for her one-act play Under the Bamboo Tree which was performed at the Bush Theatre and The Edinburgh Festival. A subsequent play, Happy Yellow, in 1977 was mounted at the London fringe Bush Theatre and was later performed at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Personal life

In 1973, the literary agent Pat Kavanagh introduced Brown's writings to Harold Evans, editor of The Sunday Times, and in 1974 she was given freelance assignments in the UK by Ian Jack, the paper's features editor and in the US by its colour magazine edited by Godfrey Smith.[15] When a relationship developed between Brown and Evans, she resigned[when?] to write for the rival The Sunday Telegraph.[citation needed] Evans divorced in 1978 and, on 20 August 1981, he and Brown married at Grey Gardens, the East Hampton, New York, home of The Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn.[15] They lived together in New York City until Evans' death on 23 September 2020. They had two children: a son, George, born in 1986, and a daughter, Isabel, born in 1990.[16] Evans was knighted in 2004.


Early work

After graduating, while doing freelance reporting, Brown was invited to write a weekly column by the literary humour magazine, Punch. These articles and her freelance contributions to The Sunday Times and The Sunday Telegraph earned her the Catherine Pakenham Award for the best journalist under 25.[9] Some of the writings from this era formed part of her first collection Loose Talk, published by Michael Joseph.

In 1979, Brown was invited to edit the society magazine Tatler by its new owner, the Australian real estate millionaire Gary Bogard and turned it into a modern glossy magazine with covers by celebrated photographers like Norman Parkinson, Helmut Newton, and David Bailey, and fashion by Michael Roberts. Tatler featured writers from Brown's circle including Julian Barnes, Dennis Potter, Auberon Waugh, Brian Sewell, Martin Amis, Georgina Howell (whom Brown appointed deputy editor),[17] and Nicholas Coleridge. Brown herself wrote content for every issue, contributing irreverent surveys of the upper classes. She travelled through Scotland to portray the owners' stately homes. She also wrote short satirical profiles of eligible London bachelors under the pen-name Rosie Boot.

Tatler covered the emergence of Lady Diana Spencer, soon to become Princess of Wales. Brown joined NBC's Tom Brokaw in running commentary for The Today Show on the royal wedding on 29 July 1981. Tatler increased its sales from 10,000 to 40,000.[13] In 1982, when S. I. ("Si") Newhouse Jr., owner of Condé Nast Publications, bought Tatler, Brown resigned to become a full-time writer again.[citation needed] The break didn't last long and Brown was lured back to Conde Nast. This year she also hosted several editions of the long running television series Film82 for BBC1 as a guest presenter.[18]

Vanity Fair

In 1983, Brown was brought to New York by Newhouse to advise on Vanity Fair, a title that he had resurrected earlier that year.[19] It then had a circulation of 200,000. She stayed on as a contributing editor for a brief time, and then was named editor-in-chief on 1 January 1984. She recalls that upon taking over the magazine she found it to be "pretentious, humourless. It wasn't too clever, it was just dull."[20]

The first contract writer she hired was not a writer but a movie producer whom she met at a dinner party hosted by the writer Marie Brenner. The producer told her he was going to California for the trial of the strangler of his daughter. As solace, Brown suggested for him to keep a diary and his report (headlined Justice) proved the launch of the long magazine career of Dominick Dunne.[21]

Early pieces such as Dunne’s cover story on accused murderer Klaus Von Bulow and Los Angeles arrivistes like Candy Spelling, and the use of provocative covers brightened the prospects of the magazine. In addition, Brown signed up among others Marie Brenner, Gail Sheehy—who wrote a series of widely read political profiles including a cover story on Mikhail Gorbachev-- Jesse Kornbluth, T.D. Allman, Stephen Schiff, Lynn Herschberg, Peter J. Boyer, John Richardson, James Atlas, Alex Shoumatoff and Ben Brantley. The magazine became a mix of celebrity and serious foreign and domestic reporting. Brown persuaded the novelist William Styron to write about his depression under the title Darkness Visible, which subsequently became a best-selling nonfiction book. At the same time, Brown formed fruitful relationships with photographers Annie Leibovitz, Harry Benson, Herb Ritts, and Helmut Newton.[22] Annie Leibovitz's portrayal of Jerry Hall, Diane Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg and others came to define Vanity Fair. Its best known cover of this period was in August 1991 featuring a naked and pregnant Demi Moore.[23]

Three stories appeared in Vanity Fair which helped the magazine gain attention and circulation: Harry Benson's cover shoot of Ronald and Nancy Reagan dancing in the White House; Helmut Newton's portrait of accused murderer Claus von Bülow in his leathers with his mistress Andrea Reynolds with reporting by Dominick Dunne, and Brown's own cover story on Diana, Princess of Wales in October 1985 titled The Mouse that Roared. Those three stories from June to October 1985 saved the magazine after a year when rumors were rife that it was to be folded into The New Yorker.[24]

Thereafter sales of Vanity Fair rose from 200,000 to 1.2 million. In 1988, she was named Magazine Editor of the Year by Advertising Age magazine.[25] Advertising topped 1,440 pages in 1991 and with circulation revenues, especially from profitable single copy sales at $20 million, selling some 55 percent of copies on the newsstand, well above the industry average sell through of 42 percent.[26] Despite this success, occasional references later appeared to Vanity Fair losing money. Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer who suggested as much in his book Power: Why Some People Have It – And Others Don't was quickly rebutted by Bernard Leser, president of Conde Nast USA during Brown's tenure. In a letter to the editor of the Evening Standard, Leser stated Pfeffer's claim was "absolutely false" and affirmed that they had indeed earned "a very healthy profit."[27] Leo Scullin, an independent magazine consultant, called it a "successful launch of a franchise."[26] Under Brown's editorship Vanity Fair won four National Magazine Awards, including a 1989 award for General Excellence.

One of her editorial decisions was in October 1990, two months after the first Gulf War had started, when she removed a picture of Marla Maples (a blonde) from the cover and replaced it with a photograph of Cher. The reason for her last minute decision, she quipped to The Washington Post: "In light of the gulf crisis, we thought a brunette was more appropriate."[28]

The New Yorker

In 1992, Brown accepted the company's invitation to become editor of The New Yorker, the fourth in its 73-year history and the first woman to hold the position, having been preceded by Harold Ross, William Shawn, and Robert Gottlieb. She has related in speeches that before taking over, she immersed herself in vintage New Yorkers, reading the issues produced by founding editor Harold Ross: "There was an irreverence, a lightness of touch as well as a literary voice that had been obscured in later years when the magazine became more celebrated and stuffy. ... Rekindling that DNA became my passion."

"The New Yorker is a text-driven magazine and always will be, and certainly will be under my tenure," she said in an early interview. Text, she added, was her "first love."[29] Still, anxieties that Brown might change the identity of The New Yorker as a cultural institution prompted a number of resignations. George Trow, who had been with the magazine for almost three decades, accused Brown of "kissing the ass of celebrity"[30] in his resignation letter. (To which Brown reportedly replied, "I am distraught at your defection but since you never actually write anything I should say I am notionally distraught.") The departing Jamaica Kincaid described Brown as "a bully" and "Stalin in high heels."[30]

However, Brown had the support of some New Yorker stalwarts, including John Updike, Roger Angell, Brendan Gill, Lillian Ross, Calvin Tomkins, Janet Malcolm, Harold Brodkey and Philip Hamburger, as well as newer staffers like Adam Gopnik and Nancy Franklin. During her editorship, she let 79 staffers go and engaged 50 new writers and editors, most of whom remain to this day, including David Remnick (whom she nominated as her successor), Malcolm Gladwell, Anthony Lane, Jane Mayer, Jeffrey Toobin,[31] Hendrik Hertzberg, Hilton Als, Ken Auletta, Simon Schama, Lawrence Wright, John Lahr, managing editor Pamela McCarthy and executive editor Dorothy Wickenden. Brown introduced the concept of special double issues such as the annual fiction issue and the Holiday Season cartoon issue. She also collaborated with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates to devote a whole issue to the theme Black in America.[32]

Brown broke the magazine's longstanding reluctance to treat photography seriously in 1992, when she invited Richard Avedon to be its first staff photographer.[33] She also approved controversial covers from a new crop of artists, including Edward Sorel's October 1992 cover of a punk rock passenger sprawled in the backseat of an elegant horse-drawn carriage, which may have been Brown's self-mocking riposte to fears that she would downgrade the magazine.[34] A year later a national controversy was provoked by her publication of Art Spiegelman's Valentine's Day cover of a Jewish man and a black woman in an embracing kiss, a comment on the mounting racial tensions between blacks and ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York.

During Brown's tenure, the magazine received four George Polk Awards, five Overseas Press Club Awards, and ten National Magazine Awards, including a 1995 award for General Excellence, the first in the magazine's history. Newsstand sales rose 145 percent.[35] The New Yorker's circulation increased to 807,935 for the second half of 1997, up from 658,916 during the corresponding period in 1992.[36] Critics maintained it was hemorrhaging money, but Newhouse remained supportive, viewing the magazine under Brown as a start-up (which routinely lose money): "It was practically a new magazine. She added topicality, photography, color. She did what we would have done if we invented the New Yorker from scratch. To do all that was costly. We knew it would be."[36] Under Brown, its economic fortunes improved every year: in 1995 losses were about $17 million, in 1996 $14 million, and in 1997 $11 million.[36]

In 1998, Brown resigned from The New Yorker following an invitation from Harvey and Bob Weinstein of Miramax Films (then owned by The Walt Disney Company) to be the chairman of a new multi-media company they intended to start with a new magazine, book company, and television show. The Hearst company came in as partners with Miramax.

The departing verdicts after Brown's New Yorker tenure included:

She had to move fast. She was decisive ... went against the tradition of popular culture unfriendly to the written word. And what was she doing? She was pumping energy and life into a magazine devoted to publishing aesthetically and intellectually demanding writing. She saved The New Yorker.

— Hendrik Hertzberg (editorial director)[37]

The magazine will remain smarter and braver – more open to argument, and incomparably less timid – for her presence here.

— Adam Gopnik (writer)[37]

I assume we can now look forward to Miramax becoming a shallow, celebrity obsessed money loser she made The New Yorker.

— Randy Cohen (writer)[38]

She is the best magazine editor alive. What more can I say?

— Michael Kinsley (writer)[38]

The most important thing, I think, has been [Tina Brown's] effort to bring together the intellectual material and the streets. When she was in charge, despite all the complaints from the old New Yorker crowd, one got a much stronger sense of the variousness of American society than one did under the editorship of perhaps the rightfully sainted Mr. Shawn.

— Stanley Crouch (writer)[38]

Talk magazine

Tina Brown next created Talk magazine, a monthly glossy, and appointed Jonathan Burnham and Susan Mercandetti to manage Talk Books, with a staff that included editors Sam Sifton, Danielle Mattoon and Jonathan Mahler. Its two political columnists were Jake Tapper and Tucker Carlson. She simultaneously appointed Jonathan Burnham and Susan Mercandetti to manage Talk Miramax Books. Out of 42 books published during Brown's time, 11 appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List, including Leadership by Rudy Giuliani, Leap of Faith by Queen Noor of Jordan, and Madam Secretary by Madeleine Albright.

Talk magazine was due to be launched during a party at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City but was banned by Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who did not feel it was an appropriate use of the site.[39] The star-studded event mixing political leaders, writers, and Hollywood, was then moved to Liberty Island, where on 2 August 1999 more than 800 guests – including Madonna, Salman Rushdie, Demi Moore, and George Plimpton - arrived by barge for a picnic dinner at the feet of the Statue of Liberty under thousands of Japanese lanterns and a Grucci fireworks display.[40] An interview with Hillary Clinton in its very first issue caused an immediate political sensation when she claimed that the abuse her husband suffered as a child led to his adult philandering.[41] The Washington Post reported that at times, "Talk seemed more interested in promoting such Miramax stars as Gwyneth Paltrow than in politics."[42]

Despite having achieved a circulation of 670,000[43] Talk magazine's publication was abruptly halted in January 2002 in the wake of the advertising recession following the 9/11 attacks.[43] It was Brown's first very public failure but she said she had no regrets about embarking on the project. She told Charlotte Edwardes of The Telegraph in 2002: "My reputation rests on four magazines – three great successes, one that was a great experiment. I don't feel in any way let down. No big career doesn't have one flame out in it and there's nobody more boring than the undefeated."[44] Talk Media was founded in July 1998 by Miramax Films, Tina Brown and Ron Galotti to publish books and Talk magazine and produce television programs. Talk Media formed a joint venture with Hearst Magazines for the magazine only in February 1999.[45] Brown worked with the book division's editor-in chief Jonathan Burnham. She recalled in October 2017 at the time of allegations of sexual assault being made against Harvey Weinstein: "Strange contracts pre-dating us would suddenly surface, book deals with no deadline attached authored by attractive or nearly famous women."[46]

Politico estimated that Brown had "bombed through some $50 million in 212 years" on the failed venture. A $1 million contract settlement in 2002 ended Brown's involvement in Talk Media.[47]

Talk Miramax Books flourished as a boutique publishing house until it was detached from Miramax in 2005 and made part of Hyperion at Disney.

Topic A

Brown hosted a series of specials for CNBC. The network followed up by signing her to host a weekly talk show of politics and culture titled Topic [A] With Tina Brown, which debuted on 4 May 2003. The program welcomed guests ranging from political figures, such as the Prime Minister of the UK, Tony Blair, and Senator John McCain, to celebrities, such as George Clooney and Annette Bening. Topic A struggled to find an audience on Sunday nights, airing after a day of infomercials.[48] It averaged 75,000 viewers in 2005, about the same as The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch (79,000) and John McEnroe's McEnroe (75,000.)[48] On being offered a lucrative deal with tight deadlines to write a book about Princess Diana, Brown resigned, airing her last Topic A interviews on 29 May 2005.[48]

British Royal Family

Brown's biography of Diana, Princess of Wales was published just before the 10th anniversary of her death in June 2007. The Diana Chronicles[49] made The New York Times bestseller list for hardback nonfiction, with two weeks in the number one position.[50]

A sequel, The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor–The Truth and the Turmoil, on the period between the deaths of the Princess of Wales and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was published in 2022. "Some of the gossip", wrote Philip Hensher in a review for The Spectator, as in "all books of this sort, is grossly implausible."[51]

The Daily Beast

On 6 October 2008, Brown teamed up with Barry Diller to launch The Daily Beast, an online news magazine.[52] On 12 November 2010, The Daily Beast and Newsweek announced that they would merge their operations in a joint venture to be owned equally by Sidney Harman and IAC/InterActiveCorp. The new entity was named The Newsweek Daily Beast Company with Tina Brown as Editor-in-Chief and Stephen Colvin as CEO.[53] In December 2012, the final printed issue of Newsweek was published. A cover headline stated the magazine would change to the digital format, and Tina Brown wrote an editorial about it. The digital format was short-lived: the print edition returned after Brown's departure.

On 11 September 2013, Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown announced her departure. Initial reports of her contract not being renewed[54] were refuted in a statement issued by Barry Diller, IAC/InterActiveCorp's Executive Director:

I want to extol Tina Brown. She created the Beast in 2008 from a blank page, and from the beginning until today it has grown in circulation and brand recognition, even throughout the two unfortunate Newsweek years. If you removed the failed experiment to revive Newsweek, the story of The Daily Beast is one of excellence in reporting, in design, and in digital distribution. That to me is the lede of her tenure.[55]

Brown's resignation caused much speculation in the media in regard to the future of the website. Her hand-picked successor as executive editor, John Avlon, addressed the question succinctly with his quip: "The Daily Beast roars on."[56]



  • Brown, Tina (1979). Loose Talk: Adventures on the Street of Shame. London: Joseph. ISBN 0-7181-1833-2.
  • — (1983). Life As a Party. London: A. Deutsch. ISBN 0-233-97600-0.
  • — (2007). The Diana Chronicles. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-51708-9.
  • — (2017). The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983–1992. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  • — (2022). The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor, the Truth and the Turmoil. New York: Crown. ISBN 978-0-59313810-6.


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  3. ^ Mcdonell, Terry (17 November 2017). "Queen of the Glossies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
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  5. ^ "The Palace Papers". Tina Brown Media.
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  12. ^ "Christina Has a Go and Wins a Place at Oxford". Daily Express. 24 December 1970. p. 3.
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  14. ^ "Tina's Storybook Romance". Daily Express. 26 February 1974. p. 7.
  15. ^ a b Evans, Harold (2010). My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-03142-4.
  16. ^ "Tina Brown". Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  17. ^ "Georgina Howell". The Times. 27 January 2016. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 6 January 2018. (subscription required)
  18. ^ Review of Death Wish2 for Film 82 on YouTube
  19. ^ Gross, Michael (20 July 1992). "Tina's Turn: The New Yorker's Head Transplant". New York: 25.
  20. ^ Porter, Henry (10 February 1991). "All is Vanity". The Sunday Review. pp. 3–5.
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  22. ^ Friend, David. "Vanity Fair: The One Click History". Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  23. ^ "1991 Vanity Fair cover featuring pregnant Demi Moore named 1 of most influential images of all time". Women in the World in Association with The New York Times - WITW. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  24. ^ Jones, Alex (9 March 1985). "An Intensely Private Family Empire". The New York Times: 31.
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  27. ^ Leser, Bernard (16 December 2010). "Tina Brown, A True Money-Maker (letters)". Evening Standard: 55.
  28. ^ Washington Post, Thursday, 25 October 1990 – Page D3, by Chuck Conconi
  29. ^ Charles Trueheart, The Talk of the Town. The Washington Post July 1, 1992 [1]
  30. ^ a b Katz, Ian (23 October 1996). "Woman on top of her game – as new-broom editor of the fusty New Yorker, Britain's Tina Brown has had both brickbats and bouquets. Held in awe by some very big cheese in the Big Apple, to others she is 'Stalin in High Heels' How does she feel about that?". The Guardian.
  31. ^ Grigoriadis, Vanessa (18 June 2007). "What Does Tina Brown Have to Do to Get Some Attention?". New York. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  32. ^ "New Yorker Lit-Glam Up Harvard". The Boston Globe: 30. 22 April 1996.
  33. ^ Gopnik, Adam (11 October 2004). "Richard Avedon".
  34. ^ Kolbert, Elizabeth (5 December 1993). "How Tina Brown Moves Magazines". The New York Times Magazine.
  35. ^ "American Society of Magazine Editors". Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  36. ^ a b c Pogrebin, Robin (16 February 1998). "The Year of Pointing Fingers at the New Yorker". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  37. ^ a b "The Talk of the Town". The New Yorker: 25–27. 3 August 1988.
  38. ^ a b c Lehman, Susan (9 July 1998). "Buzzing About the Buzz Machine". Salon.com. Archived from the original on 1 December 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  39. ^ McGee, Celia (9 July 1999). "Bashing Back at the Mayor". The Daily News. p. 5.
  40. ^ Kuczynski, Alex (3 August 1999). "For Talk Magazine, Eclectic Party and a Hip List". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  41. ^ Kuczynski, Alex (19 January 2002). "Lifelines Cut, Talk Magazine Goes Silent". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
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  43. ^ a b Kurtz, Howard (19 January 2002). "Tina Brown's Talk Magazine Suddenly Silenced". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  44. ^ Edwardes, Charlotte (20 January 2002). "Tina Brown: I have no plans to retire and knit". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  45. ^ "Miramax Films and Hearst Magazines Announce Plans to Publish Talk". Hearst Publishing. 11 February 1999. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  46. ^ Brown, Tina (10 October 2017). "What Harvey and Trump have in common". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  47. ^ Norris, John (May–June 2014). "How to Lose $100 Million". Politico. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  48. ^ a b c Learmonth, Michael (9 May 2005). "Brown Tackles New Topic: Diana Tome". Daily Variety. p. 5,6.
  49. ^ Wilson, Reviewed by A. N. "The Diana Chronicles". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
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  51. ^ Hensher, Philip (30 April 2022). "You can make anything up about the royal family and it will be printed as fact". The Spectator. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
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  55. ^ "The Daily Beast Roars On". 20 September 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  56. ^ "The Daily Beast Roars On". The Daily Beast. 20 September 2013.


External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Leslie Field
Editor of Tatler
Succeeded by
Preceded by Editor of Vanity Fair
Succeeded by
Preceded by Editor of The New Yorker
Succeeded by