Simon Garfield

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Simon Frank Garfield (born 19 March 1960)[1] is a British journalist and non-fiction author. He was educated at the independent University College School in Hampstead, London, and the London School of Economics, where he was executive editor of The Beaver.


Garfield was born in London in 1960.[2] He won the Guardian/NUS 'Student Journalist of the Year' award in 1981, and the same year he became a sub-editor at the Radio Times.[1] He wrote scripts for BBC radio documentaries in the early 1980s.[1] He also wrote for Time Out magazine, acting as editor from 1988 to 1989.[1] He has written for newspapers such as The Independent, the Independent on Sunday, and The Observer, and was named Mind Journalist of the Year in 2005.[1]

He is the author of several books including Expensive Habits: The Dark Side of the Industry, the Somerset Maugham Prize-winning The End of Innocence: Britain in the Time of AIDS, The Wrestling, The Nation's Favourite: The True Adventures of Radio 1, and Mauve.[2]

In 2010 his book Just My Type was published, exploring the history of typographic fonts.[3][4]

Garfield appeared on 25 February 2013 episode of The Colbert Report to discuss why he wrote On the Map.

Garfield's book To the Letter: A Curious History of Correspondence is the inspiration behind the charity event Letters Live.


  • Expensive Habits: The Dark Side of the Music Industry (Faber and Faber, London, 1986)
  • The End of Innocence: Britain in the Time of AIDS (1994)
  • The Nation's Favourite: The True Adventures of Radio One (1998) – (account of turmoil at BBC radio station)
  • Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World (2000) – (Victorian chemist William Perkin and his development of synthetic dyes), W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0-393-02005-3
  • The Last Journey of William Huskisson (2002) – (pioneering development of steam railways in Britain)
  • Our Hidden Lives: The Everyday Diaries of a Forgotten Britain (2004) – (interwoven threads from five diaries from post-World War II Britain)
  • We are at War: The Remarkable Diaries of Five Ordinary People (2005) – (interwoven accounts from five diaries from the period preceding World War II)
  • Private Battles: Our Intimate Diaries – How the War Almost Defeated Us (2006) – (interwoven accounts from four diaries of ordinary Britains living through World War II)
  • The Error World: An Affair With Stamps (2008) – (memoir of the author's stamp collecting obsession)
  • The Wrestling – (British wrestling and its eccentric performers and fans)
  • Exposure: The Unusual Life and Violent Death of Bob Carlos Clarke (2009) – (Irish photographer and suicide)
  • Mini: The True and Secret History of the Making of a Motor Car (2009)
  • Just My Type: A Book About Fonts (Profile Books Ltd, 2010)
  • On the Map: Why the World Looks the Way it Does (Profile Books Ltd, 2012)
  • To the Letter: A Curious History of Correspondence – A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing (Canongate, 2013)[5]

He also regularly writes for The Observer newspaper. He was among the clients of Pat Kavanagh at United Agents.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Simon Garfield, Esq", Debrett's, retrieved 6 July 2011
  2. ^ a b "Simon Garfield", Faber & Faber, retrieved 6 July 2011
  3. ^ Gompertz, Will (2010) "Gomp/arts: Simon Garfield: A man of letters", BBC, 18 October 2010, retrieved 6 July 2011
  4. ^ Glancey, Jonathan (2010) "Just My Type by Simon Garfield and Manuale Tipographico by Giambattista Bodoni – review", The Guardian, 4 December 2010, retrieved 6 July 2011
  5. ^

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