Peter Lewis – July 2013

 A lifelong freelance journalist, Peter Lewis has written for most national newspapers. He acquired a National Press Award for his work as an international reporter for the Daily Mail, where he has also been theatre critic and literary editor. Educated at Oxford, Peter Lewis launched his career in journalism by working for provincial papers. He has since published social histories of life during the Second World War and the 1950s. He also documented the life of George Orwell, and the rise of the National Theatre.

On 1st July we launched A Rogues’ Gallery, which  is a journey through the past half-century, charting the ups and downs of leading writers and actors, thinkers, entertainers, gurus, politicians and public non-conformists. It collects the snapshots gathered during one journalist’s long and varied career of the famous and infamous, foolish and funny, when they were off-camera.

Here are private views of the tensions that opened cracks in the marriages of Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, Harold Pinter and Vivien Merchant, Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright. What really happened when Laurie Lee drank cider with Rosie? Which film roles made Alec Guinness most satisfied and dissatisfied? Which made a young Judi Dench cry?

A Rogues' Gallery lines the windows of Daunt Books

A Rogues’ Gallery in the window of Daunt Books, where we launched the title

How the woman Hitler most admired publicly embarrassed him; how the spoons once embarrassed Uri Geller; how theatre critics sometimes get hit; how Jon Snow got out of jail; how comedians from Frankie Howerd to Jacques Tati, P. G. Wodehouse to John Betjeman, are beset with anxiety.

These are the sort of discoveries made during an eventful life spent observing human quirks and frailties. They make A Rogues’ Gallery a different sort of memoir.

Quentin Letts on A Rogues’ Gallery:

‘Peter Lewis has produced a collection of shrewd, readable nuggets. These cameos tell us not just about the likes of John Osborne, Harold Pinter, Ralph Richardson and Bernard Levin but also give us an idea of the range of the old-fashioned Fleet Street star, sceptical yet merciful, an eye for both detail and the broader sweep – and all of it brushed by an interestingly spiritual dimension.’

Extracts published in the Daily Mail: 

15th June – ‘Why Diana Dors hated being a sex symbol and how Frankie Howerd tried to seduce me’

17th June –  ‘Why Judi Dench told me she lusted after lobsters more than sex’

Author on author: Peter Lewis on Outsider II by Brian Sewell 

And most recently Peter Lewis reviews ‘Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England’ by Roy and Lesley Adkins for the Daily Mail