September 28, 1944 |
|Education||University of Oxford, M.A. Geology, 1966|
Simon Winchester, OBE (born September 28, 1944), is an English-American author and journalist who resides primarily in the United States. Through his career at The Guardian, Winchester covered numerous significant events, including Bloody Sunday and the Watergate Scandal. As an author, Winchester has written or contributed to over a dozen nonfiction books and authored one novel, and his articles have appeared in several travel publications, including Condé Nast Traveler, Smithsonian Magazine, and National Geographic. Winchester lives in New York and on a farm in Massachusetts.
Early life and education 
Simon Winchester was born in the autumn of 1944 in northern London. He attended several boarding schools in Dorset. He spent a year hitchhiking around the United States, then in 1963 went up to St Catherine's College, Oxford to study geology. He graduated in 1966 with a degree in geology and found work with Falconbridge of Africa, a Canadian mining company. His first assignment was to work as a field geologist searching for copper deposits in Uganda.
While on assignment in Uganda, Winchester happened upon a copy of James Morris' Coronation Everest – an account of the 1953 expedition that led to the first successful expedition to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Reading the book instilled in Winchester the desire to be a writer, so he sought career advice from Morris by mail. Morris urged Winchester to give up geology the very day he received the letter, and get a job as a writer on a newspaper. This Winchester resolved to do, and he very soon afterwards left Africa and returned to England to work at The Journal in Newcastle upon Tyne.
In 1969, Winchester joined The Guardian, first as regional correspondent based in Newcastle upon Tyne, but later as their Northern Ireland Correspondent. Winchester's time in Northern Ireland placed him around several events of The Troubles, including the events of Bloody Sunday and the Belfast Hour of Terror. In 1971, Winchester became part of the controversy over British press overage of Northern Ireland when he was denounced on the floor of Parliament by Bernadette Devlin for his part in justifying the shooting death of Berney Watt by British soldiers: The British Press and Northern Ireland (1972).
After leaving Northern Ireland in 1972, Winchester was briefly assigned to Calcutta before becoming The Guardian's American correspondent in Washington, D.C., where he covered news ranging from the end of Richard Nixon's administration to the start of Jimmy Carter's presidency. In 1982, while working as the Chief Foreign Feature Writer for The Sunday Times, Winchester was on location for the invasion of the Falklands Islands by Argentine forces. Suspected of being a spy, Winchester was held as a prisoner in Tierra del Fuego for three months.
In 1985, Winchester shifted to work as a freelance writer and travelled to Hong Kong. When Condé Nast re-branded Signature magazine as Condé Nast Traveler, Winchester was appointed the Asia-Pacific Editor. Over the next decade and a half, Winchester contributed to a number of travel publications including the aforementioned Traveler, as well as National Geographic and Smithsonian magazine. With the success of Winchester's books in the late 1990s, he has largely retired from journalism.
Winchester's first book, In Holy Terror, was published by Faber and Faber in 1975. The book drew heavily on his first-hand experiences during the turmoils in Ulster. In 1976, Winchester published his second book, American Heartbeat, which dealt with his personal travels through the American heartland. Winchester's third book, Prison Diary, was a recounting of his imprisonment in Tierra del Fuego during the Falklands War and, as noted by Dr. Jules Smith, is responsible for his rise to prominence in the United Kingdom.
Winchester's first truly successful book was The Professor and the Madman (1998) published by Penguin UK as The Surgeon of Crowthorne. Telling the story of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, the book was a New York Times Best Seller, and the rights to a film version were optioned by Mel Gibson; likely to be directed by John Boorman.
Though he still writes travel books, Winchester has repeated the narrative non-fiction form he used in The Professor and the Madman several times, resulting in multiple best-selling books. His 2001 book, The Map that Changed the World focused on geologist William Smith and was his second New York Times best seller. The year 2003 saw the release of another Winchester book on the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, The Meaning of Everything, as well as the best-selling Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded. Winchester followed Krakatoa's volcano with San Francisco's 1906 earthquake in A Crack in the Edge of the World. The Man Who Loved China (2008) retells the life of eccentric Cambridge scholar Joseph Needham who helped to expose China to the western world.
Simon Winchester's latest book, The Alice Behind Wonderland was released March 11, 2011.
- 1975 – In Holy Terror
- 1976 – American Heartbeat
- 1983 – Stones of Empire: Buildings of the Raj (by Jan Morris with photographs by Simon Winchester)
- 1983 – Prison Diary: Argentina
- 1984 – Their Noble Lordships: Class and Power in Modern Britain
- 1985 – Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire (also known as The Sun Never Sets)
- 1988 – Korea, A Walk Through the Land of Miracles — Korea
- 1991 – Pacific Rising: The Emergence of a New World Culture
- 1992 – Hong Kong: Here Be Dragons (by Rich Browne, James Marshall and Simon Winchester)
- 1992 – Pacific Nightmare: How Japan Starts World War III : A Future History (novel)
- 1995 – Small World: A Global Photographic Project, 1987–94 (by Martin Parr and Simon Winchester), Dewi Lewis, ISBN 1-899235-05-1
- 1996 – The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time — the Yangtze
- 1998 – The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (Published in the US as The Professor and the Madman) – Dr. William Chester Minor and Sir James Murray
- 1999 – The Fracture Zone: A Return To The Balkans
- 2001 – The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology — the work of geologist William Smith
- 2003 – The Meaning of Everything — the making of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
- 2003 – Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded — the August 27, 1883 eruption of Krakatoa
- 2004 – Simon Winchester's Calcutta (a collection of writings about the Indian city, edited with son Rupert)
- 2005 – A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 — the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
- 2008 – The Man Who Loved China — the life of Joseph Needham (title of the UK edition: Bomb, Book & Compass)
- 2010 – Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories. HarperCollins, 2010. ISBN 978-0-00-734137-5 (Alternative title: Atlantic: The Biography of an Ocean) — the Atlantic Ocean
- 2011 – The Alice Behind Wonderland — Alice Liddell
See also 
- 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
- James Murray (lexicographer)
- Oxford English Dictionary
- William Chester Minor
- "Simon Winchester Bio". Simon Winchester.com. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
- "My Turn: Simon Winchester on Becoming an American Citizen". newsweek.com. June 26, 2011. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
- "Winchester Simon – Bio of Winchester Simon – AEI Speakers Bureau". AEI Speakers Bureau. Retrieved April 3, 2010.
- "BookPage Interview August 2001: Simon Winchester". Bookpage.com. August 2001. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
- "Simon Winchester – Annotated Bibliography". San Jose State University. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
- Winchester, Simon (January 31, 1972). "13 killed as paratroops break riot". London: The Guardian. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
- Hoggart, Simon (July 22, 1972). "11 die in Belfast hour of terror". London: The Guardian. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
- http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/media/mccann72.htm#3b. Missing or empty
- Pick, Hella (August 9, 1974). "Dignity in the last goodbye". London: The Guardian. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
- "Simon Winchester". ContemporaryWriters.com. 2004. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
- "Travel Writers: Simon Winchester". Rolf Pott's Vagabonding. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
- "Best Sellers Plus". New York Times. January 17, 1999. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
- Dempsey, John (April 26, 1999). "USA's working-class soap will bow in early evening". Variety. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
- Dargis, Manohla. "Movies: About The Professor and the Madman". The New York Times.
- "Best Sellers". New York Times. September 9, 2001. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
- "Best Sellers". New York Times. August 25, 2002. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
- "Best Sellers". New York Times. November 6, 2005. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
- "About the Book – The Man Who Loved China". HarperCollins. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
- "Simon Winchester Writer, Broadcaster and Traveler". Simon Winchester.com. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
- "Academic Staff". St Catherine's College. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
- "Simon Winchester". Dalhousie University Registrar. October 8, 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
- Official website
- Simon Winchester interview on Counterpoint Radio with Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities at the University of Memphis.
- Bomb, Book & Compass — The Life of Joseph Needham, transcript of interview with Ramona Koval, The Book Show, ABC Radio National, October 3, 2008.
- Powells.com Interview with Simon Winchester.
- Simon Winchester — From the Contemporary Writers website, British Council Arts.
- Simon Winchester : Annotated Bibliography— Comprehensive bibliography of articles, essays, and all of Winchester's books.
- Simon Winchester's Smooth Forked Tongue, David Martin, December 26, 2005.
- Radio interview with Claudia Cragg KGNU on Simon Winchester's The Atlantic
- Booknotes interview with Winchester on The Professor and the Madman, C-SPAN, November 8, 1998
- In Depth interview with Winchester, C-SPAN, August 1, 2004
- Q&A with Simon Winchester, C-SPAN, October 26, 2011