Christina Hambley Brown, Lady Evans[1] CBE (born 21 November 1953), is an English journalist, magazine editor, columnist, broadcaster, and author. She is the former editor in chief of Tatler (1979 to 1982), Vanity Fair (1984 to 1992) and The New Yorker (1992 to 1998), and the founding editor in chief of The Daily Beast (2008 to 2013). From 1998 to 2002, Brown was chairman of Talk Media, which included Talk Magazine and Talk Miramax Books. In 2010, she founded Women in the World, a live journalism platform to elevate the voices of women globally, with summits held through 2019. Brown is author of The Diana Chronicles (2007), The Vanity Fair Diaries (2017) and The Palace Papers (2022).[2][3][4]

Tina Brown

Brown in 2012
Christina Hambley Brown

(1953-11-21) 21 November 1953 (age 70)
Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, UK
Alma materSt Anne's College, Oxford
Occupation(s)Journalist, magazine editor, columnist, talk-show host, author
(m. 1981; died 2020)

As a magazine editor, she has received four George Polk Awards, five Overseas Press Club awards, and ten National Magazine Awards,[5] and in 2007 was inducted into the Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame.[citation needed] In 2021, she was honored as a Library Lion by the New York Public Library.[6] In 2022, Women in Journalism, the UK's leading networking and training organization for journalists, honored her with their Lifetime Achievement Award.[7]

Born in England, Brown emigrated in 1984 and became a U.S. citizen in 2005. She now holds dual British-American citizenship. In 2000, she was appointed a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for her services to journalism overseas,[8] by Queen Elizabeth II. In September 2022, she was a CBS commentator for the funeral of the Queen, alongside Norah O'Donnell, Gayle King, Julian Payne, and Wesley Kerr.

In 2023, in partnership with Reuters and Durham University, Brown hosted Truth Tellers, the inaugural Sir Harry Evans Global Summit in Investigative Journalism at the Royal Institute of British Architects, in honor of her late husband Sir Harold Evans, the former editor of The Sunday Times. The event featured over 60 investigative journalists and editors from the U.K, the U.S, Ukraine, Mexico, Russia, Nigeria, South Africa, Canada, Iran, Bulgaria and France. Among the featured guests were Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in conversation with Emily Maitlis about What Makes a Great Investigative Journalist, Activist Bill Browder, Bellingcat investigator Christo Grozev, Head of Investigations and Chairwoman of the Board for the Anti-Corruption Foundation (founded by Alexei Navalny) Maria Pevchikh and Russian journalist and writer Mikhail Zygar on the weaponization of media in Russia, and the creator and writer of HBO show Succession Jesse Armstrong. The Truth Tellers summit will now take place annually.

Early life and education edit

Brown was born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, and grew up in the village of Little Marlow, in Buckinghamshire.[9] Her father, George Hambley Brown, worked in the British film industry producing the Miss Marple films starring Margaret Rutherford. Her mother, Bettina Kohr, who married George Brown in 1948, was an executive assistant to Laurence Olivier on his first two Shakespeare films. Brown's elder brother, Christopher Hambley Brown, became a film producer.[9]

Brown was considered "an extremely subversive influence"[10] as a child, resulting in her expulsion from three boarding schools. Offenses included organizing a demonstration to protest against the school's policy of allowing a change of underwear only three times a week, referring to her headmistress's bosoms as "unidentified flying objects" in a journal entry, and writing a play about her school being blown up and a public lavatory being erected in its place.[10]

Brown entered the University of Oxford at the age of 17.[11] She studied at St Anne's College, and graduated with a BA in English Literature. As an undergraduate, she wrote for Isis, the university's literary magazine, to which she contributed interviews with the journalist Auberon Waugh and the actor Dudley Moore,[12] and for the New Statesman.[13] Her irreverent article about an invitation from Waugh to a Private Eye lunch caught the eye of New Statesman editor Anthony Howard who offered her an Oxford column.[14]

While still at Oxford, she won The Sunday Times National Student Drama Award for her one-act play Under the Bamboo Tree, which was performed at the Bush Theatre and the Edinburgh Festival. A subsequent play, Happy Yellow, was mounted at the London fringe Bush Theatre in 1977 and was later performed at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Personal life edit

In 1973, the literary agent Pat Kavanagh introduced Brown's writings to Harold Evans, editor of The Sunday Times, who was then married to Enid Parker. In 1974, Brown was given freelance assignments by Ian Jack, the paper's features editor. When a relationship developed between Brown and Evans, Brown resigned to write for the rival Sunday Telegraph.[15] Evans divorced Parker in 1978, and he and Brown married on August 20, 1981, at Grey Gardens, the East Hampton, New York, home of The Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn.[16] They lived together in New York City until Evans's death on September 23, 2020. They had two children: a son, Georgie, born in 1986, and a daughter, Isabel, born in 1990.[17] Evans was knighted for his services to journalism in 2004.

Career edit

Punch edit

After graduating from Oxford, Brown was invited to write a weekly column for the literary humor magazine Punch. These articles and her freelance contributions to The Sunday Times and The Sunday Telegraph earned her the Catherine Pakenham Award for the best journalist under 25.[9] Some of the writings from this era formed part of her first collection Loose Talk, published by Michael Joseph.

Tatler edit

In 1979, Brown was invited to edit Tatler by its new owner, the Australian real estate millionaire Gary Bogard. During her tenure, she turned the society magazine into a successful modern glossy magazine with covers by celebrated photographers Norman Parkinson, Helmut Newton, and David Bailey, and fashion by Michael Roberts. Tatler featured writers from Brown's circle, including Julian Barnes, Dennis Potter, Auberon Waugh, Brian Sewell, Martin Amis, Georgina Howell (whom Brown appointed deputy editor),[18] and Nicholas Coleridge. She transformed the social coverage with pictures by her young discovery Dafydd Jones.[19] Brown wrote content for every issue, contributing sharp surveys of the upper classes. She traveled through Scotland for a feature titled "North of the Border with the Thane of Cawdor" and wrote short satirical profiles of eligible London bachelors under the pen name Rosie Boot.

Tatler covered the emergence of Lady Diana Spencer, soon to become Princess of Wales. Brown joined NBC's Tom Brokaw in running commentary for The Today Show on the royal wedding on July 29, 1981. Tatler's circulation increased from 10,000 to 40,000.[12] In 1982, when Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr., owner of Condé Nast Publications, bought Tatler, Brown resigned to assume writing full-time writer again.[20] She also hosted several episodes of the long-running television series Film82 for BBC1 as a guest presenter.[21]

Vanity Fair edit

Brown as editor of Vanity Fair magazine, between 1984 and 1987

In 1983, Newhouse brought Brown to New York to advise on Vanity Fair, a magazine he had resurrected earlier that year with a circulation of 200,000.[22] She served as a contributing editor for a brief time, and was named editor in chief on January 1, 1984. Upon taking over the magazine, she found it to be "pretentious, humourless. It wasn't too clever, it was just dull."[23]

The first contract writer she hired was movie producer Dominick Dunne, whom she met at a dinner party hosted by the writer Marie Brenner. Dunne told Brown he was going to California for the trial of his daughter's murderer. Brown suggested he keep a diary as solace, and his resulting report (headlined "Justice: A Father's Account of the Trial of his Daugher's Killer") proved the launch of Dunne's long-running magazine career.[24]

Early pieces such as Dunne's cover story on accused murderer Claus von Bülow and Los Angeles arrivistes such as Candy Spelling, as well as the use of provocative covers, transformed the prospects of the magazine. Among others, Brown signed up Marie Brenner, Gail Sheehy—who wrote a series of widely read political profiles, including a cover story on Mikhail Gorbachev—Jesse Kornbluth, T.D. Allman, Stephen Schiff, Lynn Hirschberg, Peter J. Boyer, John Richardson, James Atlas, Alex Shoumatoff and Ben Brantley. The magazine became a mix of celebrity news and serious foreign and domestic reporting. Brown persuaded novelist William Styron to write about his depression under the title Darkness Visible, which subsequently became a best-selling nonfiction book. At the same time, Brown formed fruitful relationships with photographers Annie Leibovitz, Harry Benson, Herb Ritts, and Helmut Newton.[25] Leibovitz's portrayals of Jerry Hall, Diane Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg and others came to define Vanity Fair. Its best-known cover of this period featured a naked and pregnant Demi Moore in August 1991.[26]

Three stories from June to October 1985 helped the magazine gain attention and circulation in a year when rumors were rife that it was to be folded into The New Yorker.[27] Harry Benson's cover shoot of Ronald and Nancy Reagan dancing in the White House; Helmut Newton's portrait of accused murderer Claus von Bülow in his leathers with his mistress Andrea Reynolds with reporting by Dominick Dunne, and Brown's own cover story on Diana, Princess of Wales in October 1985 titled "The Mouse That Roared".

Sales of Vanity Fair rose from 200,000 to 1.2 million. In 1988, Brown was named Magazine Editor of the Year by Advertising Age magazine.[28] Advertising topped 1,440 pages in 1991 and circulation revenues rose, especially from profitable single-copy sales at $20 million, selling some 55 percent of copies on the newsstand, well above the industry average sell-through rate of 42 percent.[29] Despite this success, professor Jeffrey Pfeffer in his book Power: Why Some People Have It – And Others Don't suggested the magazine was losing money. In a letter to the editor of the Evening Standard, Bernard Leser, president of Condé Nast USA, stated Pfeffer's claim was "absolutely false" and affirmed that Vanity Fair had indeed earned "a very healthy profit."[30] Leo Scullin, an independent magazine consultant, called it a "successful launch of a franchise."[29] Under Brown's editorship, Vanity Fair won four National Magazine Awards, including a 1989 award for General Excellence.

In October 1990, two months after the first Gulf War started, Brown nixed a picture of the blond Marla Maples for the cover and replaced it with a photograph of Cher. The reason for her last-minute decision, she quipped to The Washington Post: "In light of the Gulf crisis, we thought a brunette was more appropriate."[31]

The New Yorker edit

In 1992, Brown accepted the company's invitation to become editor of The New Yorker, the fourth editor in its 73-year history, following Harold Ross, William Shawn, and Robert Gottlieb. Brown was the first woman to hold the position. Before taking over, she immersed herself in vintage New Yorkers, reading the issues produced by founding editor Ross: "There was an irreverence, a lightness of touch as well as a literary voice that had been obscured in later years when the magazine became more celebrated and stuffy. ... Rekindling that DNA became my passion."[32]

"The New Yorker is a text-driven magazine and always will be, and certainly will be under my tenure," she said. Text, she added, was her "first love."[33] Anxieties that Brown might change the identity of The New Yorker as a cultural institution prompted a number of resignations. George Trow, who had been with the magazine for almost three decades, accused Brown of "kissing the ass of celebrity"[34] in his resignation letter. (To which Brown reportedly replied, "I am distraught at your defection but since you never actually write anything I should say I am notionally distraught.") The departing Jamaica Kincaid described Brown as "Stalin in high heels."[34]

Brown, however, had the support of New Yorker stalwarts John Updike, Roger Angell, Brendan Gill, Lillian Ross, Calvin Tomkins, Janet Malcolm, Harold Brodkey and Philip Hamburger, as well as newer staffers Adam Gopnik and Nancy Franklin. During her editorship, she let 79 staffers go and engaged 50 new writers and editors, including David Remnick (whom she nominated as her successor), Malcolm Gladwell, Anthony Lane, Jane Mayer, Jeffrey Toobin,[35] Hendrik Hertzberg, Hilton Als, Ken Auletta, Simon Schama, Lawrence Wright, John Lahr, Pamela McCarthy, and executive editor Dorothy Wickenden. Brown introduced the annual fiction issue and the holiday cartoon issue. She also collaborated with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates to devote an issue to the theme Black in America.[36]

Brown broke the magazine's longstanding reluctance to treat photography seriously in 1992, when she invited Richard Avedon to be its first staff photographer.[37] She approved controversial covers, including Edward Sorel's October 1992 image of a punk-rock passenger sprawled in the back seat of an elegant horse-drawn carriage, which may have been Brown's self-mocking riposte to fears that she would downgrade the magazine.[38] A year later Valentine's Day publication of Art Spiegelman's cover of a Jewish man and a Black woman in an embracing kiss, a comment on the mounting racial tensions between Blacks and ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, garnered controversy. Brown appointed Spiegelman's wife Francoise Mouly as the magazine's art editor.[39]

During Brown's tenure, the magazine received four George Polk Awards, five Overseas Press Club Awards, and ten National Magazine Awards, including a 1995 award for General Excellence, the first in the magazine's history. Newsstand sales rose 145 percent.[40] The New Yorker's circulation increased to 807,935 for the second half of 1997, up from 658,916 during the corresponding period in 1992.[41] Critics maintained it was hemorrhaging money, but Newhouse remained supportive, viewing the magazine under Brown as a start-up: "It was practically a new magazine. She added topicality, photography, color. She did what we would have done if we invented The New Yorker from scratch. To do all that was costly. We knew it would be."[41] Under Brown, its economic fortunes improved every year: In 1995 losses were about $17 million, in 1996 $14 million, and in 1997 $11 million.[41]

In 1998, Brown resigned from The New Yorker following an invitation from Harvey and Bob Weinstein of Miramax Films (then owned by The Walt Disney Company) to chair Talk Media.

Opinions of Brown's New Yorker tenure varied:

"She had to move fast. She was decisive ... went against the tradition of popular culture unfriendly to the written word. And what was she doing? She was pumping energy and life into a magazine devoted to publishing aesthetically and intellectually demanding writing. She saved The New Yorker," wrote editorial director Hendrik Hertzberg.[42]

Writer Adam Gopnik said, "The magazine will remain smarter and braver—more open to argument, and incomparably less timid—for her presence here."[32]

"I assume we can now look forward to Miramax becoming a shallow, celebrity-obsessed money loser she made The New Yorker," wrote Randy Cohen.[43]

"She is the best magazine editor alive. What more can I say?" said writer Michael Kinsley.[44]

"The most important thing, I think, has been [Brown's] effort to bring together the intellectual material and the streets," said writer Stanley Crouch. "When she was in charge, despite all the complaints from the old New Yorker crowd, one got a much stronger sense of the variousness of American society than one did under the editorship of perhaps the rightfully sainted Mr. Shawn."[32]

Talk magazine edit

In July 1998, Brown, along with Harvey and Bob Weinstein of Miramax Films and Ron Galotti, founded Talk Media to publish books, a magazine, and movies and television programs.

Talk Media formed a joint venture with Hearst Magazines for Talk magazine, a monthly compendium of news and culture, in February 1999.[45] Brown worked with the book division's editor in chief Jonathan Burnham and acquiring editor Susan Mercandetti. She recalled in October 2017 at the time of allegations of sexual assault being made against Harvey Weinstein: "Strange contracts pre-dating us would suddenly surface, book deals with no deadline attached authored by attractive or nearly famous women."[46][47]

Staff members included editors Sam Sifton, Danielle Mattoon, Jonathan Mahler and Virginia Heffernan. Jake Tapper and Tucker Carlson provided political columns. Notable articles included the first US profile of Osama bin Laden before 9/11, Tom Stoppard's autobiographical piece about his Jewish roots that was the origin of his 2020 play Leopoldstadt and Tucker Carlson's revealing profile of then Republican presidential candidate George W Bush.[48]

An anticipated magazine launch party at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City was thwarted by Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who reportedly felt it was not an appropriate use of the site.[49] The event was moved to Liberty Island, where on August 2, 1999, more than 800 political leaders, writers, and Hollywood notables, including Madonna, Salman Rushdie, Demi Moore, and George Plimpton, arrived by barge for a picnic dinner at the feet of the Statue of Liberty under thousands of Japanese lanterns and a Grucci fireworks display.[50] An interview with Hillary Clinton in the first issue claimed that the abuse her husband suffered as a child led to his adult philandering.[51] The Washington Post reported that at times, "Talk seemed more interested in promoting such Miramax stars as Gwyneth Paltrow than in politics."[52]

Despite having achieved a circulation of 670,000[53] Talk magazine's publication was halted in January 2002 in the wake of the advertising recession following the 9/11 attacks.[53] It was Brown's first very public failure, but she said she had no regrets about embarking on the project. She told Charlotte Edwardes of The Telegraph in 2002: "My reputation rests on four magazines—three great successes, one that was a great experiment. I don't feel in any way let down. No big career doesn't have one flame out in it and there's nobody more boring than the undefeated."[54]

Politico estimated that Brown had "bombed through some $50 million in 212 years" on the failed venture, an assessment that did not include revenue from the book division. Talk Miramax Books flourished as a boutique publishing house until it was detached from Miramax in 2005 and folded into Hyperion at Disney. Out of 42 books published during Brown's time, 11 appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list, including Leadership by Rudy Giuliani, Leap of Faith by Queen Noor of Jordan, Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir, Experience by Martin Amis and Madam Secretary by Madeleine Albright.

A $1 million contract settlement in 2002 ended Brown's involvement in Talk Media.[55]

Topic A edit

After Brown hosted a series of specials for CNBC, the network signed her to host a weekly Sunday evening talk show of politics and culture titled Topic A with Tina Brown, which debuted on May 4, 2003. Guests included politicians Tony Blair and Senator John McCain and celebrities such as George Clooney and Annette Bening. Topic A struggled to find an audience on Sunday nights.[56] It averaged 75,000 viewers in 2005, about the same as The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch (79,000) and John McEnroe's McEnroe (75,000.)[56] Brown resigned to write The Diana Chronicles.[56]

Books edit

Tina Brown speaking at Barnes and Noble about The Diana Chronicles

Brown's biography of Diana, Princess of Wales was published in June 2007, just before the 10th anniversary of Diana's death. The Diana Chronicles[57] made The New York Times Best Seller list for hardback nonfiction, with two weeks in the number one position.[58]

In 2017, Brown published The Vanity Fair Diaries, culled from her eight and a half years as editor in chief of Vanity Fair.

In 2022, Brown published a sequel to The Diana Chronicles called The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor—The Truth and the Turmoil, on the period between the deaths of the Princess of Wales and Queen Elizabeth II. It topped The New York Times best seller list and sold 250,000 copies in the U.S.

"[Brown] becomes the ideal tour guide," reviewed The Wall Street Journal: "witty, opinionated and adept at moving us smoothly from bedchamber to below stairs while offering side trips to the cesspits of the tabloid press, the striving world of second-tier celebrities and the threadbare lodgings of palace supernumeraries."[59]

"Some of the gossip," wrote Philip Hensher in a review for The Spectator, as in "all books of this sort, is grossly implausible."[60]

The Daily Beast edit

On October 6, 2008, Brown teamed up with Barry Diller to launch The Daily Beast, an online news site.[61] The site gained popularity after Christopher Buckley, posted a column announcing his support of Barack Obama.[62] Other news-making pieces included Lucinda Franks's coverage of the Bernie Madoff scandal.[63] Regular Beast contributors included John Avlon, former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, former Council on Foreign Relations president emeritus Leslie Gelb, and Michelle Goldberg.

The Daily Beast won the Webby Award for Best News Site in 2012[64] and 2013.

On November 12, 2010, The Daily Beast and Newsweek announced they would merge operations in a joint venture to be owned equally by Sidney Harman and IAC/InterActiveCorp called the Newsweek Daily Beast Company, with Brown as editor in chief and Stephen Colvin as CEO.[65] In December 2012, the final printed issue of Newsweek was published. A cover headline stated the magazine would change to a digital format, alongside an editorial written by Brown. The digital format was short-lived: the print edition returned after Brown's departure.

In September 2013, while with the Daily Beast, Tina Brown was accused of falsely printing stories about Amanda Lindhout, a kidnapped Canadian journalist who for 15 months was abused by her insurgent Islamist kidnappers in Somalia, including an incorrect story about an alleged Lindhout pregnancy that never took place. A resulting retraction was printed by National Public Radio in response to Brown's comments.[66]

On September 11, 2013, Brown announced her departure. Initial reports of her contract not being renewed[67] were refuted in a statement issued by Barry Diller, IAC/InterActiveCorp's executive director:

"If you removed the failed experiment to revive Newsweek, the story of The Daily Beast is one of excellence in reporting, in design, and in digital distribution. That to me is the lede of [Brown’s] tenure."[68]

Brown's resignation caused speculation in the media in regard to the future of the website. Her hand-picked successor as executive editor, John Avlon, addressed the question succinctly: "The Daily Beast roars on."[69]

Women in the World edit

In 2010, Brown founded Women in the World, a live journalism platform, to "discover and amplify the unheard voices of global women on the front lines of change."

First held at New York’s Hudson Theater, and thereafter at Lincoln Center’s David Koch Theater, Women in The World summits convened women leaders, activists and political change-makers from around the world to share their stories and offer solutions to building a better life for women and girls. Former ABC news producer Kyle Gibson was senior executive producer and managing editor of the inaugural event.

The first summit took place March 12–14, 2010, and included appearances by Queen Rania of Jordan, Meryl Streep, Valerie Jarrett, Christine Lagarde, Hillary Clinton, Madeleine K. Albright, Nora Ephron, and Katie Couric. At the second summit, held March 10–12, 2011, participants included Hillary Clinton, Dr. Hawa Abdi, Condoleezza Rice, Sheryl Sandberg, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Diane Von Furstenberg, Melinda Gates and Ashley Judd.

More than 2,500 ticket buyers attended the three-day summit at Lincoln Center. At subsequent summits featured guests included Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee, Barbra Streisand, Nancy Pelosi, Gloria Steinem, Zainab Salbi, Christiane Amanpour, Justin Trudeau, Masih Alinejad, Nikki Haley, Lynsey Addario, Cecile Richards, Priyanka Chopra, Melinda Gates, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Nicholas Kristof, Ajay Banga and Anna Wintour.

In 2012, Women in the World expanded outside the United States with a summit held in São Paulo, Brazil. Between 2012 and 2019 Women in the World summits and salons were held in New Delhi, Toronto, London and Dubai, as well as Washington DC, San Antonio, Dallas, Los Angeles and Miami.[70]

The Women in the World summits ended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Works edit

  • — (1979). Loose Talk: Adventures on the Street of Shame. London: Joseph. ISBN 0-7181-1833-2.
    • collection of articles for Tatler
  • — (1983). Life As a Party. London: A. Deutsch. ISBN 0-233-97600-0.
    • collection of articles for Tatler
  • — (2017). Remembering Diana: A Life in Photographs. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-1-4262-1853-8.
  • — (2007). The Diana Chronicles. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-51708-9.
  • — (2017). The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983–1992. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  • — (2022). The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor, the Truth and the Turmoil. New York: Crown. ISBN 978-0-59313810-6.

Awards and honors edit

References edit

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  3. ^ Mcdonell, Terry (17 November 2017). "Queen of the Glossies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
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  43. ^ "Salon Media Circus | Buzzing about the buzz machine". 1 December 2010. Archived from the original on 1 December 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2023.
  44. ^ "Tina Brown: And for her next trick..." The Independent. 13 November 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2023.
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  55. ^ Norris, John (May–June 2014). "How to Lose $100 Million". Politico. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
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