Michael Leapman

Michael Leapman’s latest biography is of Inigo Jones, the seventeenth-century architect and stage designer, published by Headline in 2003 and in paperback in 2004. His first book for Headline, in 2000, was The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild, the story of the Georgian nurseryman who was the first to produce a hybrid from two distinct flowers. Sandwiched between them was The World for a Shilling, his 2001 book about the Great Exhibition of 1851.

His first biography, published in 1983, arose from his principal occupation as a journalist and media commentator. Barefaced Cheek (Hodder and Stoughton) was only the second account of the early life and career of Rupert Murdoch, who two years earlier had become the most important newspaper proprietor in Britain by acquiring The Times and the Sunday Times. In 1987 Michael ventured into political biography on the mistaken assumption that his subject, Neil Kinnock, would win the ensuing general election.

He has written more than a dozen other books since 1976 when One Man and his Plot, an account of his allotment in Brixton, was published by John Murray. He also writes guide books, and his Companion Guide to New York won the Thomas Cook Award as the best of 1983. Witnesses to War, a book for young adults about children’s wartime experiences, won the Times Educational Supplement Senior Book Award in 1998. He has also written about broadcasting, with revealing accounts of the inner workings of the BBC (Last Days of the Beeb, 1986) and TV-am (Treachery? 1984).

Early in his career he was a foreign correspondent, covering wars and political events in Africa and the Indian sub-continent. He won a British Press Award for his coverage of the Nigerian Civil War in the late 1960s, and during the 1970s he was by turn Diary Editor and New York correspondent of The Times. His New York columns were published by Allen Lane as Yankee Doodles.

Before embarking on his career as an author he also worked for the Sun newspaper as royal reporter as well as royal editor and Assistant Editor of the Daily Express during one of the most fascinating periods in their recent history.