presenter • writer • journalist
Sam Leith is one of the most prolific and acclaimed writers and journalists of his generation. He is the author of the Financial Times’s fortnightly Art of Persuasion column, writes a weekly op-ed page column in the Evening Standard and the monthly “Leith On Life” column for Prospect, where he’s an associate editor. His work also appears in the Times, Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Tatler and a host of other publications.
As a broadcaster, he has appeared on the Today Programme, Front Row, Newsnight Review, The Culture Show, Fry’s English Delight and The News Quiz. As a critic, he writes regularly on books for the Guardian, Financial Times, Spectator, Literary Review and the TLS, and he’s been a judge, inter alia, of the Costa, Samuel Johnson, Forward and David Cohen prizes. He’s a member of the Folio Academy.
His novel, The Coincidence Engine, was selected as one of the Waterstone’s Eleven best first novels of 2011 and shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction. His book on rhetoric, You Talkin’ To Me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama, was described by Boris Johnson as “the best available analysis”. Other reviewers called it “elegant, concise and frequently very funny”, “erudite”, and “immensely entertaining”.
What Have The Romans Ever Done For Us? A Brief History of Rhetoric
In forty-five illuminating and very funny minutes, Sam will give you a rock-solid primer on the basics of a subject that, for two millennia, was at the very heart of Western civilisation. With examples as diverse as William Shakespeare, Richard Nixon and the fat kid from South Park, he shows how rhetoric not only remains a vital part of day to day life – but how fascinating it can be once you start to understand it, and how you can use it yourself. As a bonus extra, he’ll teach you the ancient techniques to build your own “memory palace” – as seen on Sherlock.
Tomorrow’s Fish and Chip Wrappers
Sam comes from three generations of journalists, and knows both old Fleet Street and new. This entertaining talk – packed with witty personal anecdotes – takes an intelligent and sceptical look at the way newspapers work, from their strange private language to their sometimes hair-raising behaviour in pursuit of a scoop. He takes a look at where the industry now stands, and where the future – if there is one – might lie.
Making Prose Work
This is a practical seminar – which can be one or two hours long -- on improving your written communication. Sam will give a step-by-step introduction to the principles of clear and forceful expression. It will consider the rules that we know – and think we know – about grammar and style. It will look at issues of tone of voice and sentence construction, the right and wrong use of specialist language, and the avoidance of cliché. Students will be advised to bring along their brains and their pens.