From a humble background in Barry, where his father was a butcher and local politician in the formative years of the new town, Cyril Lakin studied at Oxford, survived the First World War, and went on to become a Fleet Street editor, radio presenter and war-time member of parliament. As literary editor of both the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times, Lakin was at the centre of a vibrant and radical generation of writers, poets and critics, many of whom he recruited as reviewers. He gained a parliamentary seat and served in the National Government during World War II.
The different worlds he inhabited, from Wales to Westminster, and across class, profession and party, were facilitated by his relaxed disposition, convivial company, and ability to cultivate influential contacts. An effective talent-spotter and catalyst for new projects, he preferred pragmatism over ideology and non-partisanship in politics: a moderate Conservative for modern times.
Geoff Andrews is a historian and biographer with wide interests, his previous books have been on the history of British communism, Italian politics, the Slow Food movement and the Cambridge Spies.