- Biography & Memoir
The acclaimed memoir on the Thatcher era by the former editor of The Times
A year after the death of Margaret Thatcher, a young woman arrives to ask Peter Stothard, former Editor of The Times, some sharp questions about his memories of the Thatcher era. During her interview the offices from where he has long observed British politics are being flattened by wrecking balls. Forgotten stories return. From the destruction of a collapsing newspaper plant emerge portraits of ‘the Senecans’: a Hollywood screenwriter who wrote Thatcher’s speeches, a socialite former socialist who comforted her with flattery, a comic political columnist whom she admired but rarely read and a multi-millionaire film-producer whom she consulted but never acknowledged.
The Senecans took their name from their taste for the work of Seneca, a philosopher, courtier and acquirer of massive wealth during the age of Emperor Nero. Blending memoir with ancient and modern politics in the manner of his acclaimed diaries On the Spartacus Road and Alexandria, Stothard sheds a sideways light on recent history. In finally identifying his interviewer he answers questions about his own literary and political journey.
'An artful blend of fact and fiction... poetically written, supremely stylish' Guardian
'A brilliant, haunting work from a modern master of memoir' Mary Beard
'A blend of classical learning and political recollection [which] seeks to capture the mood and moment of the Thatcherite Eighties' Evening Standard - a Best Book of 2016
'Underscores the evanescence of journalism and of strivings for fame... Finely descriptive [in the] grace of its reflections' Financial Times
‘Full of juicy little Thatcher anecdotes… the picture that unfolds of Thatcher is neither cloyingly sycophantic nor nastily aggressive. Instead, she emerges as an unusually insecure figure’ Daily Mail
'An education in the random brutalities and routine betrayals of political life' TLS
'Clever, insightful, and highly entertaining' The National Interest
'Stothard writes in an attractive way about Seneca, Thatcher, the classics, politics, journalism, his early life and class differences in Essex.' Sunday Times
'Peter Stothard’s intriguing and beguiling book in some ways foregrounds the question of longevity and morality' Scotsman
'A thoughtful and unexpectedly moving memoir which brilliantly captures the excitement of the Thatcher years.' Wall St Journal - European edition
'Remarkable anecdotes about the Thatcher years...a delightful book.' Spectator