A bad day at the office

The Guardian newspaper is notorious for its errors. In these days of spell-checkers typos are less common. However, as this correction announcement shows, it, and its sister paper The Observer, are still capable of some major howlers. Clearly the author of the original book review had a very bad day at the office.

First published in the Guardian

A review of David Astor: A Life in Print, a biography of the former editor of the Observer, contained a number of errors (20 February, page 7, Review). In the article we suggested that William Waldorf Astor was named after a hotel, when in fact his name referred to the family’s native Rhineland village. He didn’t build Cliveden, as we suggested, but bought it, and he didn’t sack the editor of the Observer for spiking his contributions (although he did sack the editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, another Astor acquisition, for spiking his contributions). We said Katharine Whitehorn was women’s editor of the Observer when in fact she was a columnist. We said Patrick Leigh Fermor compared David Astor to Disney’s Pluto; Fermor actually compared the writer Philip Toynbee to that cartoon character. Terence Kilmartin replaced Jim Rose as Observer literary editor, not JC Trewin. During the war, David Astor didn’t merely suffer “a mild attack of dysentery” as suggested in the review. In fact he was wounded in action during a German ambush in the Ardennes. Terence Kilmartin is believed to have been involved in his rescue, and Astor was awarded the Croix de Guerre.


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