Anthony Sampson

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Anthony Sampson
Anthony Sampson.jpg
Sampson in 1995, at his London home.
Born Anthony Terrell Seward Sampson
(1926-08-03)3 August 1926
Billingham, County Durham
Died 18 December 2004(2004-12-18) (aged 78)
Wardour, Wiltshire
Nationality English
Occupation Journalist, biographer
Known for Mandela: The Authorised Biography
Spouse(s) Sally Sampson (1965–2004)

Anthony Terrell Seward Sampson (3 August 1926 – 18 December 2004) was a British writer and journalist. His most notable and successful book was Anatomy of Britain, which was published in 1962[1] and was followed by five more "Anatomies", updating the original book under various titles. He was the grandson of the linguist John Sampson, of whom he wrote a biography, The Scholar Gypsy: The Quest For A Family Secret (1997).[2] He also gave Nelson Mandela advice on Mandela's famous 1964 defence speech at the trial which led to his conviction for life.


Sampson was born in Billingham, County Durham,[3] and was educated at Westminster School. In 1944 he joined the Royal Navy, and by the time he left, in 1947, he was a sub-lieutenant in the RN Volunteer Reserve.[3] He then studied English at Christ Church, Oxford.[3]


In 1951 Sampson went to Johannesburg, South Africa, to become editor of the magazine Drum, remaining there for four years.[3] After his return to the United Kingdom he joined the editorial staff of The Observer, where he worked from 1955 to 1966.

He was the author of a series of books, starting with Anatomy of Britain (1962), in which he explored the workings of the British state and other major social institutions, in particular the large corporation. He took an interest in broad political and economic power structures, but he also saw power as personal. He occasionally offered psychoanalytical interpretations of power players, as in this passages from The Money Lenders:

"[Bankers] seem specially conscious of time, always aware that time is money. There is always a sense of restraint and tension. (Is it part of the connection which Freud observed between compulsive neatness, anal eroticism and interest in money?)"

Sampson was a personal friend of Nelson Mandela before Mandela became politically active. In 1964 Sampson attended the Rivonia Trial in support of Mandela and other ANC leaders, and in 1999 he published the authorised biography of Mandela.[2]

Sampson was also a founding member of the now defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).[3]

Sampson's personal archive, catalogued by the Bodleian Library, was made public for the first time in 2012.[1]



Critical studies, reviews and biography[edit]

  • Jones, Eric (Oct 1995). "Up the organisation". Books. Quadrant. 39 (10): 79–81.  Review of Company man.


External links[edit]