Tom Hodgkinson

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Tom Hodgkinson
Hodgkinson at 2009 event, "The Great Escape"
Hodgkinson at 2009 event, "The Great Escape"
Newcastle, England
OccupationJournalist, author
Alma materJesus College, Cambridge
GenrePolitics, satire
Literary movementIdling
Notable worksThe Idler (editor)
How to be Idle
How to be Free
The Idle Parent

Tom Hodgkinson (born 1968) is a British writer and the editor of The Idler magazine, which he established in 1993 with his friend Gavin Pretor-Pinney. His philosophy, in his published books and articles, is of a relaxed approach to life, enjoying it as it comes rather than toiling for an imagined better future. The Idler was named after a series of essays written by Dr Johnson from 1758 to 1760.


Tom Hodgkinson was born in Newcastle, England. He is the brother of journalist and author Will Hodgkinson; their father is the science and medical writer Neville Hodgkinson and their mother is the prolific non-fiction writer and journalist Liz Hodgkinson.[1][2]

Tom was educated at Westminster School and Jesus College, Cambridge, during which time he played the bass guitar in the Stupids-influenced thrash band Chopper. He lived in North Devon until 2013. He currently lives in London.[3]

In the early 1990s, he worked at a Rough Trade Records shop in London, where he had the idea for The Idler.[4] In the late 1990s, he became an importer of absinthe.[5]

From 1995 to 1997 he was Joint Head of Creative Development at Guardian Newspapers, where he worked for Carolyn McCall and Alan Rusbridger.[citation needed]

From 1997 to 2002 he and Gavin Pretor-Pinney ran Idle Industries, a creative consultancy with clients such as Channel 4, the Guardian, Sony PlayStation, ad agency Mother, Paramount TV and Oakley. The pair launched the Crap Towns series of books.[citation needed]

Hodgkinson has contributed articles to The Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian and The Sunday Times as well as being the author of the Idler spin-offs, How To Be Idle, How To Be Free and The Idle Parent.

How to Be Idle has been translated into 25 languages and was a best-seller in the UK, US, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic.[citation needed]

In 2006 he created National Unawareness Day, to be celebrated on 1 November.[6]

In March 2011 he and his partner Victoria Hull launched The Idler Academy in London, a school running courses in philosophy, public speaking, grammar, ukulele, singing, drawing, calligraphy, astronomy, foraging, bread baking, bartitsu and small business.[7]

In April 2013 he launched the Idler Academy Bad Grammar Award,[8] and in September 2013 he launched the Ukulele Player of the Year competition. Bloomsbury UK and Bloomsbury US published his and Gavin's book, The Ukulele Handbook.[9]


  • The Idler (periodical: 1993–present)
  • How To Be Idle (2005)
  • How To Be Free (2006)
  • Republished as The Freedom Manifesto (US Release, 2007)
  • The Idle Parent (2009)
  • The Book of Idle Pleasures (May 2010; co-edited with Dan Kieran)
  • Brave Old World (2011)
  • Republished as How to Live in the Country (2021)
  • The Ukulele Handbook (September 2013; co-written with Vampire Weekend)
  • Business for Bohemians (2017)
  • The Idler's Manual (2021)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Review by Mick Brown in The Telegraph of The House Is Full of Yogis by Will Hodgkinson
  2. ^ Biography page on Liz Hodgkinson's website
  3. ^ "Tom Hodgkinson: Having successfully quit the rat race, I now find myself trying to get back into it". The Independent. 17 October 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  4. ^ "The Great Escape: Tom Hodgkinson (with Neil Scott)". Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  5. ^ Tom Hodgkinson (7 February 2004). "Review: Hideous Absinthe by Jad Adams – Books – The Guardian". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  6. ^ "November 1: National Unawareness Day". The Guardian. November 2006.
  7. ^ Matthew Reisz (August 2011). "Truth, beauty... idleness". Times Higher Education.
  8. ^ "Just how bad is bad grammar?". BBC News. May 2013.
  9. ^ "Tom Hodgkinson: 'Jeremy Clarkson howled with horror and crawled under the table to escape'". The Independent. August 2013.

External links[edit]