Neal Ascherson

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Appearing on television discussion programme After Dark in 1987

Charles Neal Ascherson (born 5 October 1932) is a Scottish journalist and writer.


Ascherson was born in Edinburgh on 5 October 1932.[1] He was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge, where he read history and graduated with a triple starred first degree. The historian Eric Hobsbawm was his tutor at Cambridge and described Ascherson as "perhaps the most brilliant student I ever had. I didn't really teach him much, I just let him get on with it."[1]


After graduating he declined offers to pursue an academic career.[1] Instead, he chose a career in journalism, first at The Manchester Guardian and then at The Scotsman (1959–1960), The Observer (1960–1990) and The Independent on Sunday (1990–1998). He contributed scripts for the documentary series The World at War (1973–74) and the The Cold War (1998). He has also been a regular contributor to the London Review of Books.

Ascherson has lectured and written extensively about Polish and Eastern Europe affairs.[2][3]

As of 2016 Ascherson is a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London.[4] He has been editor of Public Archaeology, an academic journal associated with UCL devoted to CRM and public archaeology issues and developments, since its inception in 1999.[5]

In 1991 Ascherson was awarded an honorary degree from the Open University as Doctor of the University.[citation needed] On St Andrew's Day 2011 at their Anniversary Meeting the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland elected Ascherson an Honorary Fellow.

Personal life

Neal Ascherson's first wife was Corrina Adam; the couple first met at Cambridge University and married in 1958. They had two daughters together before separating in 1974. The couple divorced in 1982.[6] Corinna Ascherson, also a journalist, died in March 2012.[6][7] In 1984, he married his second wife, the journalist Isabel Hilton.[1] The couple currently live in London and have two (now adult) children, Iona and Alexander. His aunt was the British actress Renée Asherson.[8]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Wroe, Nicholas (12 April 2003). "Romantic nationalist". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "UK writer Neal Ascherson discusses NATO, EU on Prague visit". Radio Prague. 2004. Retrieved 13 May 2004.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Neal Ascherson - fascinating memories of the Soviet invasion and much more". Radio Prague. 2004. Retrieved 8 June 2004.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "People: Staff: Honorary". Our Staff. UCL Institute of Archaeology. Retrieved 5 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Carman, John (2002). Archaeology and Heritage: An Introduction. London and New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-5894-7. OCLC 48140490.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Corinna Ascherson". The Times. 29 March 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (subscription required)
  7. Pavan Amara "Rhyl Street flat blaze victim, Corinna Ascherson, an idealistic socialist once one half of ‘journalism’s golden couple’", Camden New Journal, 15 March 2012
  8. Pendreigh, Brian (6 October 2014). "Obituary: Renée Asherson, actress". The Scotsman. Retrieved 5 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links