Rupert Christiansen

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Rupert Christiansen (born 1954) is an English writer, journalist and critic.

Life and career[edit]

Born in London, Christiansen is the grandson of Arthur Christiansen (editor of the Daily Express) and son of Kay and Michael Christiansen (editor of the Sunday and Daily Mirror). Aged 12, he was taken to see his first opera, La fille du régiment at Covent Garden.[1] He was educated at Millfield and King's College, Cambridge, where he took a double first in English. As a Fulbright scholar, he also attended Columbia University from 1977 to 1978.

He was hired by Rodney Milnes as a reviewer for Opera magazine, and then took over Milnes' column in The Spectator.[1] He went on to write for many other newspapers and periodicals, including Harper's and Queen, Vanity Fair, The Times Literary Supplement and Literary Review, all of them British or American.[2]

He has written a number of books, winning the Somerset Maugham Award in 1988 for Romantic Affinities.[3] His memoir I Know you're Going to be Happy won the Spear's Memoir of the Year prize in 2013.[4]

Formerly arts editor of Harper's and Queen and deputy arts editor of The Observer, he became opera critic and arts columnist of The Daily Telegraph and dance critic of The Mail on Sunday in 1996. Christiansen sits on the editorial board of Opera magazine. In 2010, he was appointed to the international jury of the Birgit Nilsson Prize.[5]

Christiansen was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1997.[6] Between 2014 and 2016, he was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at University of East Anglia,[7] and since 2016 he has been Collaborating Research Scholar at Keble College, Oxford, where he also teaches.

Formerly a board member of the Charleston Trust (1995–2010) and Gate Theatre (1993–2012), he was appointed to the boards of the Cambridge Arts Theatre and Shadwell Opera in 2016.

In 2009, he entered a civil partnership with the architectural critic Ellis Woodman.[8] He lives in London.

Christiansen stood down as opera critic of The Daily Telegraph in 2020.[9], but continues to write for the paper as a book reviewer and commentator on the arts


  • The Complete Book of Aunts[10]
  • Faber Pocket Guide to Opera
  • Once More, with Feeling!: A Book of Classic Hymns
  • Romantic Affinities: Portraits From an Age, 1780–1830[11]
  • Paris Babylon: Grandeur, Decadence and Revolution 1869–75[12]
  • The Voice of Victorian Sex: Arthur H Clough 1819–1861
  • The Visitors: Culture Shock in 19th Century Britain
  • William Shakespeare: The Mystery of the World's Greatest Playwright
  • Prima Donna: A History
  • The Grand Obsession – An Anthology of Opera
  • I Know You're Going to be Happy
  • City of Light


  1. ^ a b Christiansen, Rupert (5 December 2020). "What I've learnt in 25 years as The Telegraph's opera critic". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  2. ^ Faber and Faber, Author biography: Rupert Christiansen
  3. ^ The Somerset Maugham Award, List of winners Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Spear's Wealth Management Survey. "Spear's Book Awards 2013
  5. ^ Christiansen, Rupert (16 March 2011). "'I was honoured to help pick Riccardo Muti'". Daily Telegraph
  6. ^ Royal Society of Literature, List of Fellows Archived 2011-06-14 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Royal Literary Fund (2016). "Rupert Christiansen, Non-fiction writer, University of East Anglia"
  8. ^ The Independent, "Nuptial bliss amid the ruins", 11 January 2009
  9. ^ Christiansen, Rupert [@Rupechri] (5 December 2020). "I've decided to stand down as the Telegraph's opera critic at Christmas. I've banged on about the subject in its pages for 25 years: long enough, in all honesty, and time for a new voice to be heard. I'll continue to write for the paper in other capacities" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  10. ^ Hughes, Kathryn, "Aunts aren't just for Christmas", The Guardian, 21 October 2006 (review of The Complete Book of Aunts)
  11. ^ Bevington, Helen, "When In Doubt, Duel", New York Times, 15 January 1989 (review of Romantic Affinities)
  12. ^ Bernstein, Richard, "Unconventional History Of the Paris Commune", New York Times, 15 March 1995 (review of Paris Babylon: Grandeur, Decadence and Revolution)

External links[edit]