Anthony Sampson

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Biographical information

Anthony Sampson

Synopsis:

British writer and journalist, editor of Drum magazine in Johannesburg during the 1950s

First name: 
Anthony
Last name: 
Sampson
Date of birth: 
3 August 1926
Location of birth: 
Billingham, County Durham, England
Date of death: 
18 December 2004
Location of death: 
England

Anthony Sampson was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church in Oxford, and served on the Royal Navy from 1944-7.

In 1951, due in part to his connection with then editor Jim Bailey, Sampson became editor of Drum magazine in Johannesburg. During this time, Sampson met and formed relationships with future leaders such as Nelson Mandela, and writers like Nadine Gordimer.

On his return to Britain he joined the editorial staff of The Observer, where he worked from 1955-6. Sampson also wrote a book about Drum in 1955 entitled Drum: A Venture Into The New Africa (1956).

Sampson went on to write several other books about South Africa, including The Treason Cage: The Opposition On Trial In South Africa (1958), Commonsense About Africa (1960) and South Africa: Two Views Of Separate Development (1960) with S. Pienaar.

Sampson was the author of several books on Britain, which began with Anatomy of Britain (1963). In these works he focused on an explanation of the British state and the functioning of large corporations. He went on to write several other books about Britain, which are listed below.

In 1964, Sampson attended the Rivonia Trial, where he was invited to advise Mandela on his speech. Sampson is reported to have given the African National Congress (ANC) salute in court.

In 1966, Sampson quit his job at The Observer, and published The New Europeans. In 1968 he began working as an associate professor at the University of Vincennes in Indiana, USA.

In 1973, Sampson published The Sovereign State: The History of ITT and rejoined The Observer as an American correspondent until 1974.

Sampson went on to write several other books about power broking, business and large corporations, and remained an occasional contributor to The Observer.

In 1977, Sampson began contributing to Newsweek, and it was during this time that he worked as an editorial consultant to the Brandt Commission. By the 1980s, Sampson was editing The Sampson Letter, and establishing links with the ANC in exile, as the apartheid era began to draw to a close.

Sampson has narrated series for the BBC, and has held positions in various organisations including Chairman of The Society of Authors, trustee of the Guardian and Observer’s Trust, and a member of the international advisory board of Independent Newspapers (South Africa).

Sampson also wrote an official biography of Mandela, entitled Mandela: The Authorised Biography (1999), which won the Alan Paton Award.

Sampson wrote his autobiography, The Anatomist, before he died of a heart attack on 18 December 2004. He is survived by his wife, Sally (whom he married in 1965), and his two children.

Published Works:

  • Drum: A Venture Into The New Africa (1956)
  • The Treason Cage: The Opposition On Trial In South Africa (1958)
  • Commonsense About Africa (1960)
  • South Africa: Two Views Of Separate Development (1960)
  • Anatomy of Britain (1962)
  • Anatomy of Britain today (1965)
  • The New Europeans (1966)
  • The New Anatomy of Britain (1971)
  • Changing Anatomy of Britain (1982)
  • The Essential Anatomy of Britain: Democracy in Crisis (1992)
  • The New Europeans (1968)
  • The Sovereign State of ITT (1973)
  • The Seven Sisters (a study of the international oil industry) (1975)
  • The Arms Bazaar (a study of the international arms trade) (1977)
  • The Money Lenders (a study of international banking) (1981)
  • Black Gold (about the crumbling of apartheid and the business/financial picture in South Africa) (1987)
  • Company Man (a study of corporate life) (1995)
  • Mandela: The Authorised Biography (1999), winner of the Alan Paton Award
  • Who Runs This Place?: The Anatomy of Britain in the 21st Century (2004)
  • The Anatomist (2004)

References:
• Anthony Sampson [online] Available at: www.wikipedia.org [Accessed 22 June 2009]
• “Anthony Sampson honoured at Nelson Mandela Foundation” [online] Available at: www.nelsonmandela.org [Accessed 22 June 2009]
• “The Anatomist: The autobiography of Anthony Sampson” [online] Available at: www.jonathanball.co.za [Accessed 22 June 2009]
• Thompson, J. (2004) “Obituary: Anthony Sampson” [online] Available at: www.theguardian.co.uk [Accessed 22 June 2009]

Last updated : 17-Nov-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011

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