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. 1997). 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, was developed from her work on the documentary, concentrating on the history of the covertly CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom. The book won the Royal Historical Society's William Gladstone Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award.[4] It has since been published in fifteen languages.[4] Saunders' other works reflects her academic background as a medievalist.

In 2005, after some years as the arts editor[5] and associate editor of the New Statesman, she resigned in protest over the sacking of Peter Wilby, the then-editor. In 2004[6] and 2005[7] 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 (in the US: The Devil's Broker), 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,[8] the Anglo-Irish aristocrat who shot Benito Mussolini in 1926, wounding him slightly.

Saunders was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018.[4]

Published works[edit]



  • Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War. London: Granta, 1999. ISBN 1862070296.[9]
  • Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman. London: Faber and Faber, 2004. ISBN 057121908X.
  • The Woman Who Shot Mussolini. London: Faber and Faber, 2010. ISBN 978-0571239771.


  1. ^ a b "Frances Stonor Saunders" (biography). Shadow Company.
  2. ^ Distinguished alumnae
  3. ^ Saunders, Frances Stonor (14 June 2013) [22 October 1995]. "Modern Art was CIA 'Weapon'". The Independent. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "Frances Stonor Saunders." Royal Society of Literature. Archived from the original. Accessed January 16, 2020.
  5. ^ "Person Page — 7558." Archived from the original.
  6. ^ "Meetings of Minds", BBC Radio 3 page for first episode
  7. ^ "Meetings of Minds", BBC Radio 3 page for first episode of second run
  8. ^ Hughes-Hallett, Lucy. "The Woman Who Shot Mussolini by Frances Stonor Saunders". The Guardian, February 27, 2010. Archived from the original.
  9. ^ Laqueur, Walter. "You Had to be There." Review of Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War by Frances Stonor Saunders. The National Interest, No. 58, 99, 2000, pp. 133-135. Archived from the original.
  10. ^ Baumol, William J., and Hilda Baumol. Review of The Cultural Cold War by Frances Stonor Saunders. Journal of Cultural Economics, Vol. 25, No. 1, February 2001, pp. 73-75. doi:10.1023/A:1007648425606.

External links[edit]