Benson, Richard 1966–
Benson, Richard 1966–
PERSONAL: Born February 13, 1966; son of Gordon and Pauline (Hollingworth) Benson. Education: Attended King's College, London, and City University of London. Hobbies and other interests: Football.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Hamish Hamilton, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England.
CAREER: Beverley Guardian, Driffield, East Yorkshire, England, reporter, 1988–89; Independent, London, England, freelance journalist, 1991–92; Face, associate editor, 1992–95, editor, 1995–; Arena, Arena Homme Plus, and Frank, editor, 1998–. Consultant and development director for Face and Arena, 1998.
MEMBER: British Fashion Council Press Committee, Amnesty International, Leeds United Fan Club.
(Editor) Night Fever: Club Writing in "The Face," 1980–1997, Boxtree (London, England), 1997.
The Farm: The Story of One Family and the English Countryside, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Vogue and the New York Times.
SIDELIGHTS: As a reporter and journalist, Richard Benson wrote for many of Great Britain's leading newspapers before he became an editor at the trendy music and fashion publication the Face, which was the leading magazine of London's New Romantic movement of style and music during the 1980s. In 1997, with the magazine's glory days well behind it, Benson edited a collection of its most popular pieces, titled Night Fever: Club Writing in "The Face," 1980–1997. His next project bore little resemblance to his first. The Farm: The Story of One Family and the English Countryside is a memoir about growing up in bucolic Yorkshire on a struggling family farm.
Not much of a farmer himself, Benson moved to London as a young man and left the farm to his father and brother. On visits home he initially lapsed into a nostalgic, if unrealistic, appreciation of his family's land. As Benson told his long-suffering father, he would have enjoyed farming more if it were still done by horses. Later, when he tried to convert a pasture into an organic wildflower field, he met with abject failure because he refused to listen to the advice of his family and their farming friends and treat the land with weedkillers first. Ultimately, The Farm "could have been a treacly eulogy to lost dreams, but Benson is too smart for that," wrote Charlie Lee-Potter in the New Statesman.
Benson reserves special praise in the book for his mother, who grew up in a similarly impoverished mining family. "When people talk about how hard farmers work, they often overlook the wives, many of whom labour as partners in the business," Benson wrote in an essay about his family in the London Observer, "feed all the people working in it, run houses through which passes a steady stream of lorry drivers, sales reps, potato merchants, vets, mechanics, mates lending and borrowing machinery and escaped livestock, and—oops, almost forgot—bring up children." Reviewing The Farm in the Spectator, Paul Routledge appreciated the book's authenticity and wrote that Benson "has done us a favour by proving that he can do better than 'style' journalism. The Farm is a neat little tribute to a lost way of life, and beautifully produced."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
New Statesman, June 6, 2005, Charlie Lee-Potter, review of The Farm: The Story of One Family and the English Countryside, p. 54.
Observer (London, England), May 15, 2005, Richard Benson, "All about My Mother."
Spectator, May 28, 2005, Paul Routledge, review of The Farm, p. 41.
Spiked, http://www.spiked-online.co.uk/ (April 14, 2004), Andrew Calcutt, "Why The Face No Longer Fits."