Frances Stonor Saunders

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For other uses, see Frances Saunders.
For the male version of this name, Francis Saunders (disambiguation)

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

A few years after graduating (in 1987[1]) with a first-class Honours degree in English from St Anne's College, Oxford,[2] she 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.

Frances Stonor Saunders is the daughter of Julia Camoys Stonor and lives in London.


  1. ^ a b Shadow Company, Biography
  2. ^ Distinguished alumnae, St Anne's College, Oxford
  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