Donald Trelford

From Cliveden to Fleet Street

David Astor: A Life in Print

By

Jonathan Cape 416pp £25 order from our bookshop

This is the portrait of a saint, warts and all. Jeremy Lewis has achieved something I didn’t think possible: a convincing and highly readable life of a man whose evanescent and complex personality has tantalised and ultimately defeated previous attempts to pin him down.

Born into a family of unimaginable wealth and unrivalled political contacts, David Astor chose to turn his back on the family home at Cliveden and his formidable mother, Nancy, which created an inner turmoil that never left him and could only be managed by sessions of psychoanalysis, often daily, from Anna Freud. His agonised relationship with his mother is caught in painfully articulate letters sent home from Eton and Oxford. These private tribulations are clearly a source of the problems he had in settling down to his academic studies at both places.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,