Obituary: Anthony Sampson

Article excerpt

WHILE most academics would consider a particular circumstance or a crisis, the writer, who had learned his journalism editing a magazine for non-white South Africans, decided to ana tomise the whole country, examining the rich and the powerful, their brokers and the way it all worked or broke down.

Thus, in 1962, his book, Anatomy of Britain, was launched on to a nation rapidly losing the Empire, and moving towards the first Labour Government since Attlee's administration, and the social liberalisation which prevailed until Margaret Thatcher.

Anthony Sampson's theme was that, despite the opportunities of democracy, the country was still dominated by a ruling caste, joined by an unbroken thread stretching from birth, through schools, universities and the centres of civil administration.

This was his ``establishment'', a word which would soon be adopted by Peter Cook and his fellow satirists, often themselves from the same background.

With the Labour Government of Harold Wilson, MP for Huyton, waiting to sweep away ``13 years of Tory misrule'', Sampson's opus was gladly received by a generation of scholars and students, who would find that figures such as The Beatles and the masters of technology, fashion and broadcasting were the new elite. …