Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Sunday 17th October 2004

Sasha Moorsom Young, 1931-1993

As one of the BBC's first women producers, Sasha Young brought the poems of Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin to a Radio Three audience years before they became household names. She was also instrumental in encouraging Jean Rhys to resume her writing career in the fifties when she chose one of her short stories to be broadcast. She published two novels herself, the first of which, The Lavender Trip, won two first novel awards in 1976. Her most recent discovery was Mary Sietmann who, after being urged by Sasha to continue with her writing, published her first novel, Jumping The Queue, under the name Mary Wesley.

She met her husband, Lord Young of Dartington, in 1958 when she thought his recently published book, Family and Kinship in East London, would make a good subject for a radio programme. Two years later they were married and, though she abandoned her career at the BBC, she remained an energetic contributor to the arts, spending as much time nurturing the talents of others as developing her own.

She was born in 1931 at Ramsdean End, Hants, the daughter of Raisley and Ann Moorsom. She was brought up in a literary atmosphere, with Lytton Strachey, Goldsworthy Lowes-Dickinson and Arthur Waley being frequent visiors to the family home. During the war she was educated in South Africa, returning to England in 1946 to go to Bedales. She went up to Cambridge in 1950 where she became a celebrated beauty. She was described by the News Chronicle as "a study of undergraduate elegance" and The Star as "Cambridge University's 'Zuleika Dobson'".

She Joined the Amateur Dramatic Club in her first term where directors like Peter Hall and John Barton eagerly competed for her talents. She made a particularly captivating Viola in Twelfth Night, managing to "pull the stage into the palm of her hand," according to Varsity, no mean feat given Mark Boxer's set designs. The ADC's production of The Comedy of Errors was sufficiently good to run for a brief time in London where it attracted the attention of The Times. "Miss Sasha Moorsom makes a delicious minx of Luciana," wrote the theatre critic. In spite of all this activity she managed to take a double first in English.

After leaving the BBC she combined raising two children with editing the education magazine, Where?, and writing a regular column for The Listener. Her first novel, The Lavender Trip, which she published under the name Sasha Moorsom, was a love story set in Provence, a part of the world she was intimately familiar with having spent Summers there all her life. It won two first novel awards, from the Yorkshire Post and the Authors Club, and was selected by the New Fiction Society. In 1983 she published a second novel, In The Shadow of the Paradise Tree, a satirical account of life among the ex-patriots at an East African university based on her experience working for the National Extension College with her husband in Nigeria.

Writing was far from her only talent. She was an accomplished painter, photographer and sculptress, exhibiting and selling to a large group of fans. She was also a prodigious organiser. She set up the Lauderdale House arts centre in Highgate, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds to renovate the burnt-out building, and helped establish the Open College of the Arts, now part of the Open University. Perhaps the greatest tribute to her organising skills, as well as her generosity, was the concert she organised for her friend the composer Anthony Scott less than four weeks before she died. In spite of being in the final stages of cancer, she managed to attend the concert in her wheelchair.

Towards the end of her life she developed a keen interest in Buddhism, which she was introduced to by her daughter Sophie, a Buddhist. This was unquestionably a source of great comfort to her in her last months when Sophie, who looked after her throughout, rarely left her side. Among all her other talents, Sasha Young was also a poet, having had poems published in The Observer and The New Statesman. A few days before she died she wrote the following verse:

Ah, the company of the birds

I loved and cherished on earth

Now freed of flesh we fly

Together, a flock of beating wings,

I am as light, as feathery,

As gone from gravity we soar

In endless circles.

[ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share

Twitter RT @timothy_stanley: Brilliant. By @Adamstoon1 link  (50 minutes ago)


What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood -
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray -
Beware the soft Stalinists of the campus by David Aaronovitch -
George Osborne and tax credits: how tough decisions get made -
The Alan and Camila Show -
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter -
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win -
Corbyn's first seven days -
Corbin's cabinet chaos by Darren McCaffrey -
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons -
Fact Check: Britain has admitted over 5,000 Syrian refugees, not 216 -
Inside Westminster's free school -
The BBC denied The Great European Disaster Movie was EU-funded. That was untrue -
Jeremy Corbyn's politics are a fantasy – just like Alice in Wonderland by Tony Blair -
Robert Conquest obit -
Reporting on fit for work deaths isn't fit for purpose -
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that -
The Timothy Hunt witch hunt by Jonathan Foreman -
West London Free School Primary praised in guide to best state schools -
In defence of free schools by Toby Young -
Data briefing: free schools by the numbers -
Malcolm Gladwell's books are books are analgesics for those who seek temporary relief from abiding anxiety by John Gray -
The hypocrisy of Mehdi Hasan by Guido Fawkes -
Intolerance of humanists who attack faith schools by Brendan O'Neill -
The 13 Most Guardian Headlines Ever -
MC Gove in da house by Michael Deacon -
The criminalisation of journalism by Mick Hume -
Why educationalists hate Michael Gove by Frank Furedi -
Profile of Nigel Farage by Edward Docx -
Margaret Thatcher: The softer side by Andrew Roberts -
Margaret Thatcher: Warrior by Matthew Parris -
Margaret Thatcher: Punk savior by Niall Ferguson -
Muslims infected by virus of anti-Semitism by Mehdi Hasan -
Mila Kunis interviewed by hapless Radio 1 DJ -
Postmodern Tories by Roger Scruton -
The Wired magazine article that inspired Argo by Joshuah Bearman -
Panic! The anatomy of a political crisis by Dan Hodges -
The British intelligentsia's libel against Israel by Melanie Phillips -
Review of Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Zöe Heller -
The Guardian has become the Vichy Evening News by Dan Hodges -
Spectator would defy new state regulator by Fraser Nelson - The Spectator
Daily Mail investigation into the Leveson Inquiry - Daily Mail
The hight-minded, Left-wing paedo hunters by Frank Furedi -
Britain's press must remain free by Tim Luckhurst -
Obit of a legendary Labour whip by Nick Robinson -
Referring to students as "learners" is infantilizing by Denis Hayes
Toby Young for Prime Minister by Jake Wallis Simons -
The election that never was by Damian McBride -
JK Rowling's new novel is boring, Left-wing agitprop by Jan Moir - Daily Mail
Naomi Wolf: Dotty and Dim by Zöe Heller -
Gove Levels - Daily Mail
The End of Men? by Hanna Rosin -
Five conservative messages smuggled into Dark Knight Rises by John Boot -
Multiculturalism? Nonsense. The Olympics are a victory for patriotism and common British values by Dan Hannan - Daily Mail
Martin Durkin's dyspeptic view of the Olympics opening ceremony -
Batman: The ultimate conservative hero by Robert Colville -
The day Gordon Brown came to power by Damian McBride -
Owen Jones *is* Justin Beiber by Dan Hodges -
Why Britain shouldn't be part of a European super-state by Charles Moore -
The shame of Britain's public school elite by Matthew Norman -
In defence of Murdoch by John O'Sullivan -
In politics, you're either up or down by John Kampfner - The Independent
James Lovelock recants - Daily Mail
Let's give Polly Toynbee the Britain she wants by Tim Worstall -
Why Labour should support free schools by Andrew Adonis -
Free schools are breaking down barrier to decent education for all by Charles Moore -
The anti-academies campaign is led by Trots, says Michael Gove -
Profit need not be a dirty word in education by Fraser Nelson -
The Magnificent Victory at Cardinal Vaughan by Charles Moore -
Academies policy has been rapidly vindicated by Fraser Nelson - The Spectator
Mossbourne Academy's outstanding A-level results - Guardian
I blame therapy culture for the riots by Dennis Hayes -
Why I'm a Conservative by Toby Young -
The Government must crack the teaching unions by His Grace -
"Ideological" is Labour's empty insult by Dominic Lawson - The Independent
Peter Sissons dissects the BBC's leftwing bias - Daily Mail
Interview with Toby Young in Attain magazine -
Topic of Cancer by Christopher Hitchens - Vanity Fair


Andrew Lilico
Andrew Neil
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone


AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on

  • Buy the book on

  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on

  • Buy the book on

  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from

  • Buy the DVD from

  • IMdb Page on the film