Aslet, Clive (William) 1955-

views updated

ASLET, Clive (William) 1955-

PERSONAL: Born February 15, 1955, in London, England; son of Kenneth and Monica Aslet; married Naomi Roth, 1980; children: William Kenneth Samuel, John Frances Independence, Charles Emmanuel Martin. Education: Attended King's College School (Wimbledon, England), and Peterhouse College (Cambridge, MA), 1977. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, riding, roaming.

ADDRESSES: Home—Flat 5, 19 Gloucester St., London SW1V 2DB, England. Offıce—Country Life, King's Reach Tower, Stamford St., London SE1 9LS, England. Agent—Andrew Best, Curtis Brown, 162-68 Regent St., London W1R 5TA, England.

CAREER: Country Life (magazine), London, England, senior architectural writer, 1977-84, architectural editor, 1984-88, deputy editor, 1989-92, editor, 1993—, editor-in-chief of Country Life Books, 1994—. Member of National Arts Collection Fund.

MEMBER: National Union of Journalists, Victorian Society, Thirties Society (founding honorary secretary, 1979-87), Garrick Club.


The Last Country Houses, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1982.

(With Lord Bessborough) Enchanted Forest: The Story of Stansted in Sussex, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1984.

(With Alan Powers) The National Trust Book of the English House, Viking (New York, NY), 1985.

Quinlan Terry: The Revival of Architecture, Viking (New York, NY), 1986.

The American Country House, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1990.

(Author of introduction) Robert A. M. Stern, The American Houses of Robert A. M. Stern, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1991.

Anyone for England? A Search for British Identity, Little, Brown (London, England), 1997.

The Story of Greenwich, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.

A Horse in the Country: Diary of a Year in the Heart of England, Fourth Estate (London, England), 2001.

SIDELIGHTS: In The Last Country Houses Clive Aslet, editor of England's Country Life magazine, examines English country houses built during the Edwardian and post-World War I eras. No longer supported by agricultural rent, these country homes were financed by industrial and commercial fortunes and had little relationship to the countryside that surrounded them. Aslet provides "a witty and entertaining history and analysis, both social and architectural," noted a New York Times reviewer, "of dozens of those millionaires' palaces, mock castles, fanciful weekend retreats and grand cottages."

Times Literary Supplement critic Andrew Saint called The Last Country Houses "arresting, handsome, and stylish," adding, "The book is also very fluently written. Aslet has inherited from the [Mark] Girouard tradition a keen eye for the telling quotation or apt social detail, so that the reader bounces along, beguiled without seeming effort even into such technical matters as drains and domestic appliances. . . . By talking about fashion, entertainment, technology, transport, gardening and 'the servant question' he is able to convey more about these houses and their life than he would do by analysing their formal features." The New York Times critic added, "Technical excellence aside, the casual reader can browse happily in the gossip about the famous, titled or merely rich who built these mansions and why."

Aslet has written or collaborated on several other books about England and its architecture, including The National Trust Book of the English House, published in 1985. In this volume co-penned with Alan Powers, Aslet "concentrates not on the great palaces," according to Betty Goodwin in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, but the middle-sized country homes "otherwise known as vernacular architecture." The authors' discussion ranges from English houses built in the twelfth century to those built during the nineteenth.

Aslet offers his opinions on contemporary British society and its faults in Anyone for England? A Search for British Identity, published in 1997. New Statesman contributor Decca Aitkenhead noted its "grumbles about English cricket captains with stubble . . . about children who can't name the kings and queens of England, and about how schoolboys no longer give up their seats on trains." She went on to explain that "everything from moral relativism to spitting in the street is there."



Canadian Journal of History, December, 2002, Judith Loach, review of The Story of Greenwich, p. 569.

Choice, March 1983, review of The Last Country Houses.

Economist, August 18, 1990, review of The American Country House, p. 73.

Library Journal, October 1, 1982, Edward Teague, review of The Last Country Houses.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 17, 1985, Betty Goodwin, review of The National Trust Book of the English House, Viking (New York, NY).

New Statesman, August 1, 1997, Decca Aitkenhead, review of Anyone for England? A Search for British Identity, pp. 44-45.

New York Review of Books, March 3, 1983, Noel Annan, review of The Last Country Houses.

New York Times, November 25, 1982.

Times Literary Supplement, November 26, 1982; November 8, 1985; February 13, 1987.

Washington Post Book World, November 28, 1982.*