Bernard Levin

Bernard Levin

Henry Bernard Levin CBE (19 August 1928 - 7 August 2004) was an English journalist, author and broadcaster.

Early life

He was educated at Christ's Hospital (which he found difficult because of his Jewish origins) and at the London School of Economics, where he contributed to the student newspaper "The Beaver".

After graduating from the LSE, it was expected that Levin would read for the bar — however he set a course for journalism with his first assignment for "Truth" under the pseudonym of A.E. Cherryman.


His talent was spotted in 1955 when he was offered a column in "The Manchester Guardian". He wrote for "The Spectator" from 1956 until 1962 - his departure was a shock to many who saw him as a natural successor for the publication's editorship. He later wrote for "The Daily Express" and, from 1962 to 1970, for "The Daily Mail"; he resigned from the latter in June 1970, citing differences with the newspaper's management during the general election of that year.

His longest standing appointment was his column for "The Times" from 1971 to 1997. His frequent mention in this column of his favourite composer Richard Wagner became something of a standing joke (although he also often expressed his admiration for Mozart as well). His sympathy for East European dissidents during the Soviet era was also frequently expressed. He was a regular habitué of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Other recurrent themes were the shortcomings of public utility companies and his love of fine dining.


Levin also appeared regularly on television, including the series "Face The Music" and "That Was The Week That Was" ("TW3"). In the latter, he interviewed prominent politicians and influential thinkers of the day, usually with a lack of reverence which was the programme's hallmark. He was awarded his CBE for services to journalism in 1990.

He was renowned for his acerbic wit. In 1963, during the live weekly edition of "TW3", he was assaulted by the Hon Desmond Arthur Peter Leslie, a member of the audience, for allegedly insulting his then wife, the actress Agnes Bernelle, in an article he'd written. The video of this event is available here: [] . His activities also got him blackballed when he tried for membership of the Garrick Club. In 1971 he wrote an article in the "Times" called "Judgement on Lord Goddard" which attacked the recently deceased former Lord Chief Justice.

Personal life

Levin never married, but had many girlfriends. He dated (and later lived with) fellow "Face The Music" panelist Arianna Stassinopoulos (now known as Arianna Huffington) from 1971 until she left him in 1980 (saying later this was partly because he refused to marry her). Writing in "The Sunday Times" after his death, she described Levin as "the big love of my life". She was junior to him by more than 20 years.

Later life

Levin began to have difficulty with his balance as early as 1988, although Alzheimer's Disease was not diagnosed until the early 1990s. He was nursed through the long degenerative phase of the illness by his long-term partner Liz Anderson, until his death. Anderson was also junior to him by more than 20 years.

Levin died in 2004, aged 75, and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London. []


Society of Indexers in England has instituted an award in his name. His book reviews often contained comments on the quality of a book's index.

Levin's polemical writings enjoyed fame which few journalists have matched. One commentator called him the best English journalist since G. K. Chesterton.


* "The Pendulum Years: Britain in the Sixties", 1970 ISBN 0-224-61963-2 (2003 reprint, ISBN 1-84046-418-6)
* "Taking Sides", 1980, ISBN 0-330-26203-3
* "Speaking up", 1982, ISBN 0-224-01729-2
* "Enthusiasms", 1983, ISBN 0-224-02114-1
* "The way we live now", 1984, ISBN 0-224-02272-5
* "A Shakespeare mystery (Presidential address)", 1984, ISBN 0-900232-15-3
* "In These Times", 1986, ISBN 0-340-42434-6
* "To the End of the Rhine", 1989, ISBN 0-340-49360-7
* "All Things Considered", 1990, ISBN 0-340-51781-6
* "Now Read on", 1991, ISBN 0-340-55983-7
* "A Walk Up Fifth Avenue", 1991, ISBN 0-340-53127-4
* "If You Want My Opinion", 1993, ISBN 0-340-58923-X
* "A World Elsewhere", 1994, ISBN 0-340-63264-X
* "I Should Say So", 1996, ISBN 0-340-67187-4
* "Hannibal's Footsteps", 1997, ISBN 0-340-40433-7
* "Enough Said", the last anthology of his newspaper columns


* [,,2-1209052,00.html Levin's obituary from The Times]
* "Debrett's People of Today". Debrett's Peerage Ltd., 2004.

External links

* [ Obituary in "The Daily Telegraph", August 10, 2004]
* [,,1279720,00.html Obituary in "The Guardian" by Quentin Crewe, August, 10, 2004]
* [ Obituary in "The Independent" by Ciar Byrne, August 10, 2004]

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