Robert Posner enriched many people’s lives with his charm, intelligence and kindness. He died of cancer on Monday 9 October in a remote cottage on Skye, where he’d moved in 2017. It was an odd place for a man as sociable as Robert to end up, perhaps, but he didn’t need much and made lifelong friends wherever he went. And he had his beloved daughter, Naomi, with him at the end.
Thirty-seven years ago, Robert walked into Literary Review’s office for what would be the first of a number of stints as its business manager. One of the staff had spotted a beautiful man reading the magazine in a nearby cafe and had drawn his attention to the job ad at the back. The editor, Auberon (‘Bron’) Waugh, hired Robert on the spot, so taken was he by his energy and warmth. Robert would be a semi-permanent fixture at the magazine for the next twenty-odd years. His position on the masthead would change regularly, from ‘boxwallah’ to whichever military rank Bron chose to bestow on him that month. Bron had a particular fondness for Robert (which was reciprocated) and seemed to fizz in his presence. But it was not just about charm. If you needed something done, Robert was your man. When I was burgled, Robert turned up hours later with a bag of tools and replaced my broken doorframe. He was what all small businesses need and did everything bar writing, commissioning and reviewing books himself. He also co-founded the Academy Club in Beak Street and ran it, enforcing the club’s only two rules (no poets, no sandals). It became one of Soho’s iconic drinking spots.
Robert was born in northwest London in 1950 and sent to boarding school at a very young age. A schoolmate remembers his buoyancy even then. Robert sat one particular exam in which he was unable to answer any of the questions and wrote instead that he knew ‘nothing about the