Toby Young

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Toby Young
Born Toby Daniel Moorsom Young
(1963-10-17) 17 October 1963 (age 51)
Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Journalist
Alma mater Brasenose College, Oxford
Notable works How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Toby Young (born 17 October 1963) is an English journalist. He is best known as the author of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, the tale of his stint in New York as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine. Young served as a judge in seasons five and six of the television show Top Chef[1] and is the co-founder of the West London Free School.[2]


Young was born in Buckinghamshire and brought up in Highgate, North London and South Devon. His mother, Sasha Moorsom, was a BBC Radio producer, artist and writer[3] and his father was Michael Young, Baron Young of Dartington, the Labour life peer and pioneering sociologist who coined the word "meritocracy".[4]


West London Free School 2011

Young was educated at Creighton School (now Fortismere School), Muswell Hill and King Edward VI Community College, Totnes. He left school at 16 with one Grade C GCE O-Level in English Literature and did menial jobs under a government Workfare programme. He then retook his O-Levels and went to the Sixth Form of William Ellis School, Highgate, where he got two Bs and a C at A-level and managed to obtain a place at Brasenose College, Oxford after he was sent an acceptance letter by mistake. (He had been offered a low BBB place under a scheme to give access to comprehensive pupils.)[5][6][7]

He was awarded a First in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and, after a six-month period as a News Trainee at The Times, went to Harvard University as a Fulbright scholar, where he worked as a teaching fellow in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. This was followed by a two-year stint at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he worked as a teaching assistant in the Social and Political Sciences Faculty and carried out research for a doctorate which he didn't complete.[8] He is currently a visiting fellow at the University of Buckingham and a commissioner of the UK Fulbright Commission.


In 1991 he co-founded and co-edited the Modern Review with Julie Burchill and her then husband Cosmo Landesman. Its motto was "Low culture for highbrows". In 1995 the magazine was close to financial ruin and Young closed it down, angering his principal financial backer Peter York.[9] This decision led to a fierce public battle with Burchill and staff writer Charlotte Raven.[9]

Young moved to New York City shortly afterward to work for Vanity Fair.[10] After being sacked by Vanity Fair in 1998, Young remained in New York for a further two years, working as a columnist at New York Press. He returned to the UK in 2000 and is currently an associate editor of The Spectator, where he writes a weekly column, and a blogger for The Daily Telegraph. His blog was long listed for the 2012 George Orwell Prize for blogging.[11]

He has performed in the West End in a stage adaptation of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People and in 2005 co-wrote (with fellow Spectator journalist Lloyd Evans) a sex farce about the David Blunkett/Kimberley Quinn scandal and the "Sextator" affairs of Boris Johnson and Rod Liddle called Who's the Daddy?.[12] It was named Best New Comedy at the 2006 Theatregoers' Choice Awards.[13]

From 2002 to 2007, Young wrote a restaurant column for The Evening Standard and, following that, a restaurant column for The Independent on Sunday. In addition to serving as a judge on Top Chef, Young has competed in the Channel 4 TV series Come Dine with Me, appeared as one of the panel of food critics in the 2008 BBC Two series Eating with the Enemy and served as a judge on Hell's Kitchen.[14]

British producer Stephen Woolley and his wife Elizabeth Karlsen produced the film adaptation How to Lose Friends & Alienate People in conjunction with FilmFour. Simon Pegg played Young, who co-produced the film.[15] The film was released in Britain on 3 October 2008 and reached the number one spot at the box office in its opening week.[16][17]

Young co-produced and co-wrote When Boris Met Dave, a drama-documentary for Channel 4 about the relationship between Eton and Oxford University contemporaries Mayor of London Boris Johnson and current Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister David Cameron, which aired on More4 on 7 October 2009.[18]

In addition to How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Young is the author of The Sound of No Hands Clapping (2006), How to Set Up a Free School (2011) and What Every Parent Needs to Know: How to Help Your Child Get the Most Out of Primary School (2014), which he co-wrote with Miranda Thomas.

Young attracted mild controversy in 2012 after he wrote an article criticising the emphasis on "inclusion" in state schools, with some people interpreting this as an attack on including disabled children in mainstream education. He denied this charge, citing a misunderstanding of what he meant by "inclusion".[19]

Young is the lead proposer and co-founder of the West London Free School, the first free school in Britain to sign a Funding Agreement with the Secretary of State for Education, and now serves as the CEO of the charitable trust that established the school.[20][21] The trust opened a primary school in Hammersmith in 2013 and a second primary in Earls Court in 2014. Young is a follower of the American educationalist E.D. Hirsch and an advocate of a traditional, knowledge-based approach to education.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Young is married to Caroline Bondy, with whom he has four children. Their eldest child started in September 2014 at the West London Free School.[23]


  1. ^ "What's Cooking with Season 5 of Top Chef?" TV Guide. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  2. ^ "What I Got Right and What I Got Wrong About Free Schools", Speech to the Marketing Society, 26 November 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Sasha Moorsom: 1931-1993", The Guardian, 1993. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  4. ^ Michael Young "Down with meritocracy", The Guardian, 29 June 2001. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  5. ^ Mikhailova, Anna (7 April 2013). "Fame and Fortune: How not to alienate the taxman". The Sunday Times. p. 8. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Oxford admissions rouse passion as two tribes war over 'unfairness'". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  7. ^ Young, Toby (11 September 2008). "Status Anxiety". The Spectator. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  8. ^ "Can Toby Young's free school succeed?" The Guardian, 5 April 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2012
  9. ^ a b Lynn Barber "Forever Young", The Observer, 3 September 2006. Retrieved 23 June 2007.
  10. ^ Alice Wyllie, "The master of foot-in-mouth syndrome - Toby Young interview", The Scotsman, 3 October 2008.
  11. ^ "Telegraph Blogs: Toby Young", The Orwell Prize.
  12. ^ Sarah Lyall "A very British 'documentary farce'", International Herald Tribune, 25 August 2005, reprinting a New York Times article. Retrieved 23 June 2007.
  13. ^ "Toby Young". BBC News. 8 September 2006. Retrieved 22 October 2008. 
  14. ^ "Archive of Toby Young's Restaurant Reviews", The Evening Standard.
  15. ^ "Simon Pegg is Toby Young in How to Lose Friends adaptation", Empire, 14 August 2006. Retrieved 23 June 2007.
  16. ^ "UK Box Office: 3-5 October 2008", BFI. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  17. ^ "Ricky Gervais's clout at the UK box office is no lie", The Guardian, 6 October 2009. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  18. ^ "Last Night's TV", The Times, 8 October 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  19. ^ "My latest Spectator column - 1st July 2012"
  20. ^ "Toby Young's battle to set up a new school", BBC2, 8 December 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
  21. ^ Harrison, Angela (2 March 2011). "Free Schools: Toby Young's is first to get go ahead". Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  22. ^ "Prisoners of The Blob: Why most education experts are wrong about nearly everything", Civitas, April 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  23. ^ "Toby Young – my daughter has to go to my school: she has no choice", The Times, 2 September 2014.

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