Nigel Farndale is an award-winning journalist who has written for various newspapers and magazines including The Observer, FT, Spectator and Sunday Times. Below are some of his features and columns. To read some of Nigel’s interviews with the great and the good of stage, screen, culture and politics see the Interviews page.

More than 25,000 prisoners of war who worked on our farms returned to live here. On Remembrance weekend Nigel Farndale discovers their stories (The Times, November 11 2016) Having fought as a young man in the First World War my grandfather was too old to fight in the Second. Even if he had been of serviceable age it is doubtful he would have been allowed to join up, given that he was in a “reserved ...
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Review for The Times, October  2016 Although this is not an authorised biography, it can’t exactly be described as an unauthorised one. Its subject, Jan Morris, gave several interviews for it, made material available, including the drawings that illustrate it, and read it before publication. There is also the small matter of the author, Derek Johns, having been her literary agent for 20 years. Perhaps inevitably, then, the air around it can seem heavy with compromise, ...
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The Times, September 20 2016 As Trump and Clinton prepare to debate on TV, Nigel Farndale, who has met both, has some tips. As scoops go, it is not quite up there with Watergate, but I was the first journalist to uncover the secret of Donald Trump’s brushed-forward, combed-over hairstyle, the one that looks like a sunken apricot soufflé. He wets it, then applies copious amounts of hairspray. That was in 2008. When it became ...
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The Times, October 1 2016 The Boston Globe's painstaking investigation into paedophile priests led to arrests, lawsuits and an Oscar-tipped film. But their fight for justice isn't over yet. In January 2002, a newspaper in Boston broke a story that was to shake the Roman Catholic Church to its very foundations. It concerned the sexual abuse of children by more than 70 priests, and the systematic attempts by Cardinal Bernard Law, the Archbishop of Boston, to ...
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In 1982, London's leading literary lights gathered for a secret dinner party. The guest of honour? Margaret Thatcher. Nigel Farndale interviews the survivors The Observer, Saturday 7 December 2013 On a clear autumn night in 1982, a government Daimler pulled out of Downing Street and began its glide across London to a house in Ladbroke Grove. In the passenger seat was a personal protection officer. He had been to the house earlier that day to ...
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From his father, as Sir John Mortimer cheerfully tells everyone, he inherited bronchial asthma, glaucoma and a tendency for his retinas to become detached. He was also bequeathed a number of walking-sticks. On an autumnal Tuesday morning, as I approach the house his father built on a wooded rise near Henley-on-Thames, Sir John waves one of these sticks at me from his study window, which proves that his sight can't be as bad as he ...
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How writing a book resembles fighting a war, writers getting their own country, and the unusual urge to stuff dead animals (Financial Times, May 10) While I would not for one moment wish to compare writing a book to fighting a war (writing books requires much more bravery and self-sacrifice), I do keep thinking of that line about war being long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of terror, and how it also applies to ...
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When Edith Tudor-Hart wasn’t working as a Soviet agent, she was taking lovingly realistic portraits of London’s workers and street children. Now, for the first time, a retrospective is celebrating her double life. Being a Soviet agent doesn’t seem to have come naturally to the photographer Edith Tudor-Hart (née Suschitzky). For one thing she used the code name “Edith”, which was not subtle. For another, when she moved to London from her native Vienna in ...
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Public-school pop stars have a hard time being taken seriously There was a time when it was Genesis, and that was it. Now the domination of the pop charts by bands and singers who attended public schools has reached epidemic proportions. Mumford & Sons, who picked up “best group” at the Brit Awards on Wednesday, are the latest in a line of public-school Brit winners that includes Lily Allen, Florence Welch, Coldplay, Radiohead, Keane, Will ...
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It's good to remember that kindness, even to a salesman, doesn’t cost anything Might this work as a theorem? Being electronically connected makes life less difficult and more annoying in equal and opposite measure. You could call it Farndale’s First Law of Interconnectedness. I’ll give you an example of how it works. I like to shop online, mainly because I don’t live near any shops. But when you fill in a form electronically you have ...
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Brushing things under the carpet is best for couples I was going to write: “When the trust goes in a marriage, there’s no fun lying to her any more.” I was then going to tell you that the line came from an old episode of Cheers, circa 1985, adding: “It was Norm who said it, I think, while propping up the bar.” But the web has taken away all the pleasure of such hazy recollection ...
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If foreigners want friendly they should go to America Apparently the rest of the world now sees Britain as a much friendlier place, thanks to the Olympic games. This won’t do at all. We are a cold and remote people whose natural instinct is to spurn friendship as though it were a rabid dog. And I think that, if they are honest, this is how other countries would wish us to remain. They knew where ...
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Items left in Travelodge hotel rooms last year included a python and a bucket of live crabs There’s something I’d like to share with you, a piece of advice I was given about packing, but the trouble is, it’s going to sound like a name drop, because it came from Hillary Clinton. I’ve considered various options – “It is said that Hillary Clinton…”, for example – but none works because it is important you know ...
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Standing as you write has much to recommend it If William Heath Robinson saw my desk, I reckon he would fold his arms, purse his lips and nod. “Not bad,” he would say. “Not bad at all.” It is resting on four old matching chairs that were gathering dust in the loft, and these bring it up to the correct height for me to work while standing. I also had to slip a book under ...
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'Iron Pete' Higgs of God particle fame has accused Richard Dawkins of adopting a 'fundamentalist' approach when dealing with believers Montgomery needed his Rommel, Wellington his Napoleon, Jeremy Clarkson his Piers Morgan. In a similar spirit, I suspect Richard Dawkins has always longed for an opponent worthy of him. In his programmes about atheism, he often finds himself having to argue with a creationist from Ohio or Kentucky, one who thinks that hair should be ...
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