Robert Chesshyre

The Man Who Listened

The Anatomist: The Autobiography of Anthony Sampson

By

Politico’s 283pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

Anthony Sampson was a rare journalist in that he left an indelible mark on the profession. He created a genre of writing that both made his name and spawned many imitators. In an era when reporters were admitted, if at all, via the tradesman’s entrance, Sampson (Westminster and Christ Church) was carriage trade: he entered by the front door and interviewed on terms of equality. How, his well-breeched victims wondered, could this cultured and self-effacing gent be anything other than ‘one of us’? And Sampson listened. Head on one side, hand supporting his chin, he was a sympathetic audience. While many journalists enjoy nothing more than the sound of their own voices, Sampson’s attentive silence invited indiscretion. People talked. When interviewing the great and the good for The Anatomy of Britain, he often didn’t even produce a notebook, never mind a tape recorder. His style – sustained in these posthumous memoirs – was to be unthreatening.

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

    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,
    • 'You are interested in a particular subject; basic research hardens this interest into an obsession, after which th… ,
    • 'Keynes predicted that future generations would enjoy such an improved standard of living that they might work just… ,
    • 'Various dislocations ... emerge, iceberg-like, out of a troubled sea of unconscious motivation and confront Eisenb… ,
    • Today is the first today of the – they've got some excellent events coming up over the next two weeks.… ,