Frances Stonor Saunders

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Frances Hélène Jeanne Stonor Saunders (born 14 April 1966) is a British journalist and historian.

Personal life[edit]

Frances Stonor Saunders, who lives in London, is the daughter of Julia Camoys Stonor and Donald Robin Slomnicki Saunders (d. 1996). Her parents divorced in 1977, and their marriage was annulled in 1978.[citation needed]


A few years after graduating (in 1987)[1] with a first-class honours degree in English from St Anne's College, University of Oxford,[2] Stonor Saunders embarked on a career as a television film-maker. Hidden Hands: A Different History of Modernism, made for Channel 4 in 1995, discussed the connection between various American art critics and Abstract Expressionist painters with the CIA.[3] Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War (1999) (in the USA: The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters), her first book, developed from her work on the documentary, concentrating on the history of the covertly CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom. Stonor Saunders' other works reflect her academic background as a medievalist.

In 2005, after some years as the arts editor[4] and associate editor of the New Statesman, she resigned in protest over the sacking of Peter Wilby, the then-editor. In 2004[5] and 2005[6] for Radio 3, she presented Meetings of Minds, two three-part series on the meetings of intellectuals at significant points in history. She is also a regular contributor to Radio 3's Nightwaves and other radio programmes.

Her second book, Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman (The Devil's Broker in the US), recounts the life and career of John Hawkwood, a condottiere of the 14th century.[1] English-born, Hawkwood (1320–1394) made a notorious career as a participant in the confused and treacherous power politics of the Papacy, France, and Italy.

The Woman Who Shot Mussolini (2010) is a biography of Violet Gibson,[7] the Anglo-Irish aristocrat who shot Benito Mussolini in 1926, wounding him slightly.

Published works[edit]

  • Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War, 1999, Granta, ISBN 1-86207-029-6 (USA: The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, 2000, The New Press, ISBN 1-56584-596-X)
  • Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman, 2004, Faber, ISBN 0-571-21908-X (in the USA: The Devil's Broker: Seeking Gold, God, and Glory in Fourteenth-Century Italy, 2005, Fourth Estate, ISBN 0-06-077729-X)
  • The Woman Who Shot Mussolini, 2010, Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-23977-1


  1. ^ a b Shadow Company, Biography
  2. ^ Distinguished alumnae
  3. ^ Frances Stonor Saunders "Modern art was CIA 'weapon'", The Independent on Sunday, 22 October 1995
  4. ^ website
  5. ^ "Meetings of Minds", BBC Radio 3 page for first episode
  6. ^ "Meetings of Minds", BBC Radio 3 page for first episode of second run
  7. ^ Lucy Hughes-Hallett "The Woman Who Shot Mussolini by Frances Stonor Saunders", The Guardian, 27 February 2010

External links[edit]