Catherine Mayer

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Catherine Mayer
Born (1961-01-24) 24 January 1961 (age 63)
United States
NationalityBritish (naturalised)
Alma materUniversity of Sussex
Occupation(s)Author, journalist, politician
Known forCo-founder of Women's Equality Party
Notable workCharles: The Heart of a King
Political partyWomen's Equality Party
(m. 1999; died 2020)
RelativesLise Mayer (sister), David Mayer (father)

Catherine Mayer (born 24 January 1961) is an American-born British author and journalist, and the co-founder and President of the Women's Equality Party (WE) in the UK.

Early life[edit]

Mayer was born in the US and later became naturalised as British.[1] She moved to Britain as a child when her father, the theatre historian David Mayer, came to research a book and later secured employment at Manchester University, where his students included Ben Elton and Rik Mayall. Her mother, Anne Mayer Bird, is prominent within theatre PR.[2][3]

Mayer attended Manchester High School for Girls,[4] and studied English Literature and European Studies at the University of Sussex (1978–82).[5] One of her sisters is The Young Ones co-writer (with Mayall) Lise Mayer, while another is the theatre agent Cassie Mayer.[2][3]


Mayer started her career at The Economist and has worked as a foreign correspondent at the German news weekly Focus.[6][7]

External videos
Catherine Mayer talks about her book
video icon Amortality: The Pleasures and Perils of Living Agelessly via Ebury Press on YouTube[8]

Mayer was president of the Foreign Press Association in London from June 2003 until June 2005.[2] She worked at Time magazine from 2004 to April 2015, serving as Time's Editor at Large, Europe Editor, London Bureau Chief and Senior Editor.[9] Mayer began legal action against Time in July 2017 on the grounds of age and gender discrimination.[10][11] Her attorney was Dr. Ann Olivarius, a founding member of the Women's Equality Party, which was co-founded by Mayer (see below); Mayer and Olivarius were featured in a 2018 episode of Thomson Reuters Legal UK & Ireland’s podcast series, "The Hearing." Mayer's lawsuit prompted other journalists to seek legal advice about sexual discrimination[12] and ended with an "amicable resolution" in 2018.[13]

In 2011 Mayer wrote Amortality: The Pleasures and Perils of Living Agelessly about the pros and cons of people living longer.[14] Her 2015 biography of Prince Charles, published in the UK as Charles: The Heart of a King and in the US as Born to Be King,[15] generated worldwide headlines with its claims of dysfunction in the royal courts. Clarence House, which had facilitated access to the Prince, distanced itself from the book.[16][17][18] Mayer stood by the content.[19] The book was a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.[20][21]

Mayer's non-fiction Attack of the 50ft. Women was published in 2017.[22] The book covers the benefits of gender equality and how it is being promoted in various countries,[22][23] and has been described as "a compelling feminist call to arms".[24]

Her memoir Good Grief, which incorporates letters written by her mother and covers the death of both women's husbands and the coronavirus pandemic, was published by HarperCollins in December 2020,[25][26] with an updated paperback edition in February 2022.[27] Reviewing Good Grief in The Observer, Kate Kellaway called it "smart, upbeat and brimming with fortitude",[28] and those who also gave endorsements and praise included Kate Mosse, who described it as "a perfect book, specific and personal, but spot on about the universal nature of grief and how we grieve. Every page sings."[29]

Women's Equality Party[edit]

Mayer co-founded the Women's Equality Party with Sandi Toksvig in March 2015[30][31] and is its President.[32] The party has core objectives: equal representation, equal pay, equality in and through the media, equal education, equal health, shared opportunities in parenting and caregiving and an end to violence against women;[33] its first policy commitments were launched by the party's first leader, Sophie Walker, at Conway Hall on 20 October 2015.[34][35] In February 2018 Mayer stated: "The party also welcomed all genders. Everyone is born with a sex, usually, though not always, male or female. Gender is the product of social and cultural factors that can be changed. The very first policy document made clear that WE supported "the right of all to define their sex or gender or to reject gendered divisions as they choose."[36] The party won its first seat in the local elections in May 2019.[37] Mayer stood as the lead candidate for the party in the 2019 European Elections in London.[32][38]

Primadonna Festival[edit]

Mayer co-founded the Primadonna Festival in 2019, a festival of ideas, writing, music and comedy at Laffitt's Hall in Pettaugh, Suffolk, aiming to give prominence to women and to new voices.[39][40][41] The festival awards the Primadonna Prize "for unsigned and unrepresented new writing talent".[42][43]

Personal life[edit]

Mayer was married to the musician Andy Gill of Gang of Four, from 1999 until his death in February 2020.[44][45]


  • Amortality: the pleasures and perils of living agelessly. London: Vermilion. 2011. ISBN 9780091939366.
  • Charles: The Heart of a King. London: WH Allen/Penguin Random House. 2015. ISBN 9780753555934.
  • Attack of the 50 Ft. Women: How Gender Equality Can Save The World. London: HarperCollins/HQ. 2017. ISBN 978 0008219802.
  • Good Grief (with Anne Mayer Bird). London: HarperCollins/HQ, 2020. ISBN 9780008436100.
Selected articles


  1. ^ Alexander, Ella (2 April 2015). "Will you support the Women's Equality Party?". Glamour Magazine. Condé Nast Publications. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Halliburton, Rachel (8 January 2004). "This woman can have Blair any time". London Evening Standard.
  3. ^ a b Langdon, Julia (16 July 2007). "I think it's amazing how unequal we are". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Epstein, Angela (13 October 2015). "Why are feminists so unpleasant to women?". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group.
  5. ^ "Four leading alumni return to Sussex for panel debate on women in arts leadership", Broadcast, University of Sussex, 30 January 2018.
  6. ^ Sexton, David (4 February 2015). "'Prince Charles has the loneliest existence I've ever witnessed': Catherine Mayer on her new biography of the future king". London Evening Standard.
  7. ^ Blumen, Danielle (29 November 2009). "Time for women in the media (blog)". Polis. London School of Economics.
  8. ^ Catherine Mayer talks about Amortality (YouTube). Ebury Press (Vermilion). 13 April 2011.
  9. ^ Greenslade, Roy (3 February 2012). "Mayer rocks on with Time promotion". The Guardian.
  10. ^ Graham-Harrison, Emma (5 August 2017). "Top journalist sues Time magazine for 'sex and age discrimination'". The Observer. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Former editor Catherine Mayer sues Time magazine for sex and age discrimination", CBC Radio, 4 September 2017.
  12. ^ Bragman, Walker (18 October 2017). "Newsweek Journalists Weigh Sex Discrimination Suit Against Magazine". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  13. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa; Graham-Harrison, Emma (8 September 2018). "Sandi Toksvig sparks new gender pay row over QI fee". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  14. ^ York, Peter (13 May 2011). "A user's guide to age". The Independent. Independent Print Ltd.
  15. ^ Swanson, Clare (5 November 2014). "New Prince Charles bio coming from Holt". Publishers Weekly.
  16. ^ Staff writer (4 February 2015). "Prince Charles 'understands limitations' of Crown". BBC News.
  17. ^ Agency (16 February 2015). "Duchess of Cornwall comes face-to-face with author of controversial Prince Charles book". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group.
  18. ^ Morgan, Sally (20 February 2015). "As Royal aides question a new biography of the Prince of Wales its author Catherine Mayer tells Hello! why she stands by every word". Hello!.
  19. ^ Sherwin, Adam (3 February 2015). "Catherine Mayer, author of controversial Charles biography: 'I was a republican but now I'm a monarchist'". The Independent.
  20. ^ Staff writer (5 February 2015). Charles: The Heart of a King. Random House. ISBN 9780753550809.
  21. ^ Charles: The Heart of a King Archived 16 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine at Penguin Books.
  22. ^ a b Shaffi, Sarah (March 2017). "From feminist novels to explorations of love: the most enthralling new reads for March". Stylist.
  23. ^ Driscoll, Brogan (8 March 2017). "Catherine Mayer, Women's Equality Party Co-Founder, On Why We Need To 'Seize The Turbulence' Of 2017". Huffington Post.
  24. ^ Sweeney, Tanya (2 April 2017), 'Why issue of gender equality still looms large', Irish Independent.
  25. ^ Brooks, Richard (5 July 2020). "A tale of two widows: the mother and daughter united by grief in the time of Covid-19". The Observer.
  26. ^ Mayer, Catherine (30 December 2020). "We must not wish this bleak year away". New Statesman.
  27. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (16 January 2022). "Widow of Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill reveals how she was ambushed by bereavement". The Observer.
  28. ^ Kellaway, Kate (7 March 2021). "The Mahogany Pod; One Thousand Days and One Cup of Tea; Good Grief – reviews". The Observer.
  29. ^ "GOOD GRIEF: Embracing life at a time of death".
  30. ^ Staff writer (20 April 2015). "Londoner's Diary: Women's party is ready to be a player". London Evening Standard.
  31. ^ Cocozza, Paula (28 August 2015). "Women's Equality party founders: 'It needed doing. So we said, "Let's do it"'". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  32. ^ a b Proctor, Kate (16 May 2019). "Women's Equality Party takes a swipe at notorious Ukip poster". Evening Standard. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  33. ^ Peaker, Hannah (29 November 2016). "Why health equality is the next goal for the Women's Equality party | Hannah Peaker". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  34. ^ "Women's Equality Party announces first policies and campaigns". Women's Equality Party. 20 October 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  35. ^ Minter, Harriet (21 October 2015). "The Women's Equality Party launch is not a moment too soon". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  36. ^ Mayer, Catherine (22 February 2018). "We need to have difficult debates. We need to find better ways to have them (blog)". Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  37. ^ Mayer, Catherine (25 July 2019). "Don't despair over Boris Johnson – it's time for hope". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  38. ^ Mayer, Catherine (13 May 2019). "Why is Nigel Farage all over the airwaves while my party barely gets a look-in? - Catherine Mayer". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  39. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (30 March 2019). "New literary festival feeds growing appetite for female-led cultural events". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  40. ^ Mayer, Catherine (3 April 2019). "Why we're launching Primadonna, the inclusive literary festival that will make our world a better place". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  41. ^ Clarke, Andrew (1 May 2019). "Sandi Toksvig and leading women writers create a family-friendly Primadonna Festival in Suffolk". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  42. ^ "Primadonna Prize". Retrieved 14 January 2024.
  43. ^ Mansfield, Katie (24 May 2019). "Primadonna Festival launches inaugural writing prize". The Bookseller. Retrieved 14 January 2024.
  44. ^ Gill, Andy (18 September 2009). "Andy Gill meets Andy Gill". The Independent.
  45. ^ Pareles, Jon (1 February 2020). "Andy Gill, Radical Guitarist With Gang of Four, Dies at 64". The New York Times.

External links[edit]