Sir Peregrine Worsthorne


Biography of Sir Peregrine Worsthorne

Sir Peregrine Gerard Worsthorne (born 22 December 1923) is a British journalist, writer and broadcaster. He was educated at Stowe School, Peterhouse, Cambridge and Magdalen College, Oxford. Worsthorne spent the largest part of his career at the Telegraph newspaper titles, eventually becoming editor of The Sunday Telegraph. He left the newspaper in 1997 but remains an active contributor to various publications.

Peregrine Worsthorne was born the younger son of Alexander Koch de Gooreynd (himself the son of a Belgian banker) and Priscilla Reyntiens, an English Roman Catholic and the granddaughter of the 12th Earl of Abingdon. The family name was anglicised following the birth of Worsthorne's older brother Simon Towneley (later the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire from 1976 to 1996). The two boys were baptized Roman Catholic, but did not attend Catholic denominational school.

Worsthorne's mother divorced his father when he was five years old, and she would soon marry Sir Montagu Norman, then the Governor of the Bank of England. As a consequence of the split, the family butler effectively raised the two brothers for several years. "Unhappy as some of my formative experiences were, all in all, it was pretty good soil for someone wanting to go into public life", he would later recall, commenting on the tradition of public duty and service so prevalent in his family and his family's social circle.

Worsthorne's biological father reverted his name to Koch de Gooreynd in 1937 and lived in Rhodesia for several years; Worsthorne discovered in the early 1960s that a half-brother was born during this period.

Worsthorne wrote that while at Stowe he was once seduced by a fellow pupil, the jazz singer and writer George Melly, on the art room chaise-longue, an accusation that Melly always denied. Perry went on to Peterhouse, Cambridge in 1942, having won an exhibition to read History. The master of Peterhouse at that time was the Conservative academic Herbert Butterfield. As was normal practice Worsthorne was called up for war service after three terms; he was rusticated during the last term. However, in army training with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry he injured his shoulder and after being admitted to a hospital in Oxford was able to persuade Magdalen College to admit him for a term.

He saw active service in Phantom during the Italian campaign with the philosopher Michael Oakeshott, and was part of the occupying force in Hamburg for three months in 1945. Worsthorne returned to Peterhouse and took his degree a year early, gaining a Second. Michael Portillo's admission of youthful same-sex relationships in 1999 caused Worsthorne to reminisce on his own experience while at Cambridge (though he had mentioned it before in his 1993 biography).

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