An Almost English Life

Literary, And Not So Literary, Recollections

by Miriam Gross

  • Published: 06 Sep 2012
  • Price: £12.99
  • Format: Hardback
  • Extent: 256p
  • ISBN: 978-1-78072-099-9
  • Buy it now from
  • Buy it now from Waterstones

In this sparkling memoir, Miriam Gross takes us on a seductive journey from wartime Jerusalem to the heart of Fleet Street, providing a wry, witty view of English cultural life.

She tells her story in a series of vivid vignettes – life as the only child of ambitious parents in Jerusalem; her bohemian school days at the progressive Dartington Hall in Devon; coming of age at Oxford (where she had a brief romance with the young Kris Kristofferson); and then finding her place in British journalism, a pre-spellcheck world populated by a mixture of chauvinists, scholars and bon vivants who seemed rarely to miss a deadline despite spending more time at lunch than at their desks.

This is a story of remarkable characters, in which the author’s friendships with many of the key figures of 20th century intellectual life and her many infatuations, requited and unrequited, are recounted with the sort of self deprecating candour that makes this memoir a classic of its kind.

“I read in almost at a sitting, so enjoyable and absorbing it was.” – Tom Stoppard

“Tremendously enjoyable. Beautifully written. A real pleasure.” – Antonia Fraser

“A terrific memoir. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of literary editing, the observations on modern stage production and the childhood recollections in Jerusalem.” – Michael Frayn

“Acute, impassioned and dauntingly honest, this is the remarkable story of one of the great observers of our time.” – Alain De Botton

“As a record of a fulfilled life, Miriam Gross’s account is almost startling… modest and well-written… exemplary.” – Anita Brookner, Spectator

“This memoir has the quality of a long conversation with a very interesting woman… it has enough packed into its 250-odd pages to supply other writers with material for any number of jumbo-sized novels… it is, to use Gross’s highest term of literary commendation, so damnably readable.” – John Sutherland, New Statesman

“***** Riveting… remarkable… Miriam Gross has written far more than a delightfully candid account of her life at the centre of several overlapping power networks. In addition to her perceptive criticisms about literacy levels in schools, she has an interesting point to make about the persistence of ‘genteel’ anti-Semitism in this country.” – Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday

“Unfailingly intelligent and elegantly written, this memoir is absorbing reading… I lapped it up in one sitting.” – Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph

“Artfully written, An Almost English Life achieves what few memoirs might intend – it casts the world, rather than the writer, into the spotlight.” Financial Times

“Marvellous… Her interviews are classics of the genre.” Standpoint

About Miriam Gross

Miriam Gross has worked on the Observer, as deputy literary editor and then as woman’s editor; on the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph as arts and literary editor; and as senior editor on Standpoint magazine. She is the editor of two collections of essays, The World of George Orwell and The World of Raymond Chandler and the author of So Why Can’t they Read?, a pamphlet on literacy in London’s state schools.