A Very Private Celebrity


John Freeman was one of Britain’s most extraordinary public figures for over half a century; a renaissance man who constantly reinvented himself; a household name who sought complete anonymity.

From student at Westminster School and Oxford University to Second World War hero, from potential Prime Minister and seminal television interviewer to New Statesman editor, from international diplomat and visiting academic to ordinary man, Freeman packed nine remarkable lives into his ninety-nine years, but really wanted nothing more than to be forgotten.

The paradox of this very private celebrity was in fact captured by the very series that made him famous: Face to Face. While he remorselessly interrogated the stars of his age, Freeman himself sat in the shadows, his back to the camera. He was the grand inquisitor, exposing the personalities behind the public figures – but never his own.

For ten years, Hugh Purcell has been tracking Freeman’s story, trying to come face to face with this enigma who believed in changing his life – and his wife – every ten years. Why did he want to forget what most old men would be proud to remember? Why did he try to erase himself from history?

Yet despite Freeman’s best efforts to be ignored, his death in 2014 was marked by an enormous outpouring of appreciation and admiration. With his life now free from its shroud of inscrutability, the true story of this incredibly multifaceted man can finally be told.

Praise for A Very Private Celebrity

A fascinating biography of a remarkable – and mysterious – man. The real John Freeman might be as elusive as the Holy Grail, but Hugh Purcell made it his quest. Anyone interested in the nature of British politics and broadcasting in the twentieth century should be grateful that he has done so.” Dominic Lawson

In this enthralling biography, Hugh Purcell unravels the enigma of a truly complex and charismatic man whose life defined the twentieth century.” Jason Cowley

Hugh Purcell is available for interview. For more information please contact victoria.gilder@bitebackpublishing.com or call 020 7091 1260

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