Robert McCrum

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John Robert McCrum (born 7 July 1953), is an English writer and editor.

Early life[edit]

The son of Michael William McCrum a Cambridge ancient historian, McCrum was educated at Sherborne School, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (MA) and the University of Pennsylvania as a Thouron Scholar.


McCrum was editorial director at Faber & Faber from 1979 to 1989[1] and editor-in-chief there from 1990 to 1996.[2] He served as literary editor of The Observer for more than ten years. In May 2008 he was appointed associate editor of The Observer.[3]

McCrum is the co-author of The Story of English with William Cran and Robert MacNeil and wrote P. G. Wodehouse: A Life. His novel, Suspicion, was published in 1997.

McCrum received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2011.[4]

Personal life[edit]

In 1995 McCrum suffered a massive stroke. The devastating experience and his recovery is chronicled in My Year Off: Recovering Life After a Stroke. He had been married to Sarah Lyall, an American journalist, for only two months and the book includes diary entries made by his wife. He became a patron of the UK charity Different Strokes, which provides information and support for younger stroke survivors.

Sarah Lyall, who writes for The New York Times, lived in London from 1995 to 2013 and was the newspaper's London correspondent for many years. She returned to New York with the couple's daughters in 2013; Lyall and McCrum now have a transatlantic relationship.[5]



  • In the Secret State. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980. (Fiction).
  • A Loss of Heart. 1982
  • The Fabulous Englishman UK: Hamish Hamilton Ltd., 1984. (Fiction).
  • Mainland. New York: Knopf, 1991.
  • The Psychological Moment. London: Martin Secker & Warburg, 1993.
  • Jubilee. New York: Knopf, 1994. ISBN 0-679-42987-5
  • Suspicion. New York: Norton, 1997. ISBN 0-393-04046-1


  • (With William Cran and Robert MacNeil) The Story of English. New York: Elisabeth Sifton, 1986.
  • My Year Off: Recovering Life After a Stroke. New York: Norton, 1998. ISBN 0-393-04656-7 ISBN 978-0393046564
  • P. G. Wodehouse: A Life. New York: Norton, 2004. ISBN 978-0-393-05159-9
  • Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language. New York: Norton, 2010. ISBN 978-0-393-06255-7


  1. ^ Debrett's People of Today 2001
  2. ^ McCrum, Robert (2008-05-25). "Have blogs been good for books?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  3. ^ McCrum, Robert (2008-05-25). "A thriller in ten chapters". The Observer. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  4. ^ Heriot-Watt University - Honorary Graduates
  5. ^ Susannah Butter and Sarah Lyall "'Sometimes I felt loud and gauche, like a guest who shows up at a memorial service wearing a Hawaiian shirt': the thoughts of a New York Times correspondent on leaving London", London Evening Standard, 23 August 2013.