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In the course of a long and successful career as a journalist and author, Paul Johnson has known popes, presidents, prime ministers, painters, poets, playwrights, even the foul-mouthed publican Muriel Belcher, who ran the legendary Colony Club. Harking back to the scandalously anecdotal 17th century book by John Aubrey on the celebrities of his times, Brief Lives is the distilled essence of Johnson's experience of a complex variety of people who have contributed to our political, spiritual and cultural life.
He advised Margaret Thatcher, counselled Princess Diana, had a drawing of him done by Ernest Hemingway and enjoyed the company of John Osborne, Arnold Wesker and Harold Pinter at Buckingham Palace. He has been an insider, outside observer and universal commentator on the individuals who have changed history, formed public taste or simply lightened our lives by their presence.