Neal Ascherson

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Appearing on television discussion programme After Dark in 1987

Charles Neal Ascherson (born 5 October 1932) is a Scottish journalist and writer. He has been described as "one of Britain's leading experts on central and eastern Europe".[1] Ascherson is the author of several books on the history of Poland and Ukraine. His work has appeared in The Guardian and The New York Review of Books.

Background[edit]

Ascherson was born in Edinburgh on 5 October 1932,[2] son of a Naval officer of Jewish ancestry and a mother from a London family of Scottish descent; his elder half-sister (by his father's first marriage) was the artist Pamela Ascherson.[3] He was awarded a scholarship to Eton.[4] Before going to university, he did his National Service as an officer in the Royal Marines, serving from July 1951[5] to September 1952,[6] and seeing combat in Malaya.[4] He then attended King's College, Cambridge, where he read history.[4] The historian Eric Hobsbawm was his tutor at Cambridge and described Ascherson as "perhaps the most brilliant student I ever had. I didn't really teach him much, I just let him get on with it."[2] He is a member of the semi-secretive Cambridge Apostles society.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

After graduating he declined offers to pursue an academic career.[2] Instead, he chose a career in journalism, first at The Manchester Guardian and then at The Scotsman (1959–1960), The Observer (1960–1990) and The Independent on Sunday (1990–1998).[4] He contributed scripts for the documentary series The World at War (1973–74) and the Cold War (1998). He has also been a regular contributor to the London Review of Books.[4]

Ascherson has lectured and written extensively about Polish and Eastern Europe affairs.[1][7]

In the 1999 election for the Scottish Parliament he stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the West Renfrewshire constituency but was not successful.[8] Ascherson supported the "Yes" (pro-independence) campaign in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.[9]

As of 2016 Ascherson is a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London.[10][4] He has been editor of Public Archaeology, an academic journal associated with UCL devoted to CRM and public archaeology issues and developments, since its inception in 1999.[11]

Awards and honours[edit]

In 1991 Ascherson was awarded an honorary degree from the Open University as Doctor of the University.[12] On St Andrew's Day 2011 at their Anniversary Meeting the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland elected Ascherson an Honorary Fellow.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Neal Ascherson's first wife was Corinna Adam; the couple first met at Cambridge University and married in 1958. They had two daughters together before separating in 1974. The couple divorced in 1982.[13] Corinna Ascherson, also a journalist, died in March 2012.[13][14] In 1984, he married his second wife, the journalist Isabel Hilton.[2] The couple currently live in London and have two (now adult) children, Iona and Alexander. His aunt was the British actress Renée Asherson.[15]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Ascherson, Neal (1963). The King Incorporated: Leopold the Second and the Congo. ISBN 1-86207-290-6.
  • Ascherson, Neal (1981). The Polish August: The Self-limiting Revolution. ISBN 0-670-56305-6.
  • Ascherson, Neal (1982). The Book of Lech Wałęsa. ISBN 0-671-45684-9.
  • The Spanish Civil War (Granada Television serial script, 1983)
  • Linklater, Magnus; Hilton, Isabel; Ascherson, Neal (1984). The Nazi Legacy. ISBN 0-03-069303-9. with Magnus Linklater and Isabel Hilton
  • Ascherson, Neal (1987). The Struggles For Poland. ISBN 0-7181-2812-5.
  • Ascherson, Neal (1988). Games With Shadows. ISBN 0-09-173019-8.
  • Ascherson, Neal (1995). Black Sea. ISBN 0-8090-3043-8.
  • Ascherson, Neal (2002). Stone Voices: The Search for Scotland. ISBN 0-8090-8491-0.
  • Opposition to Turkey's Ilisu Dam rises again with Maggie Ronayne, published 27 November 2007, chinadialogue
  • Ascherson, Neal (2017). Death of the Fronsac: A Novel. ISBN 978-1786694379.
  • "A Mess of Tiny Principalities" (review of Simon Winder, Lotharingia: A Personal History of Europe's Lost Country, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2019, 504 pp.), The New York Review of Books, vol. LXVI, no. 20 (19 December 2019), pp. 66–68.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "UK writer Neal Ascherson discusses NATO, EU on Prague visit". Radio Prague. 2004. Retrieved 13 May 2004.
  2. ^ a b c d Wroe, Nicholas (12 April 2003). "Romantic nationalist". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Interview of Neal Ascherson – December 2016". Archived from the original on 19 December 2021 – via www.youtube.com.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "The SRB Interview: Neal Ascherson", Scottish Review of Books, Musselburgh, Scotland, 3 August 2014, retrieved 26 January 2017
  5. ^ "No. 39293". The London Gazette. 24 July 1951. p. 3994.
  6. ^ "No. 39657". The London Gazette. 30 September 1952. p. 5149.
  7. ^ "Neal Ascherson – fascinating memories of the Soviet invasion and much more". Radio Prague. 2004. Retrieved 8 June 2004.
  8. ^ "Vote 99: Scotland Constituencies & Regions. Renfrewshire West". BBC News. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  9. ^ Ascherson, Neal (18 July 2014). "Scottish Independence Is Inevitable". New York Times. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  10. ^ "People: Staff: Honorary". Our Staff. UCL Institute of Archaeology. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  11. ^ Carman, John (2002). Archaeology and Heritage: An Introduction. London and New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-5894-7. OCLC 48140490.
  12. ^ "Neal Ascherson books – Folio Biography". The Folio Society. Archived from the original on 11 November 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Corinna Ascherson". The Times. 29 March 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015. (subscription required)
  14. ^ Pavan Amara "Rhyl Street flat blaze victim, Corinna Ascherson, an idealistic socialist once one half of ‘journalism’s golden couple’" Archived 8 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Camden New Journal, 15 March 2012
  15. ^ Pendreigh, Brian (6 October 2014). "Obituary: Renée Asherson, actress". The Scotsman. Retrieved 5 January 2015.

External links[edit]