As a child, Anthony Sampson was haunted by a family skeleton. He knew his grandfather John Sampson had been an authority on the gypsies. They had called him the Rai - the Master - and had flocked to his magnificent funeral on a Welsh mountain. But of his grandfather's private life he was told nothing, nor of the mysterious aunt who joined the family after his death. In fact only sixty years later did the truth begin to emerge. This book follows...
As a child, Anthony Sampson was haunted by a family skeleton. He knew his grandfather John Sampson had been an authority on the gypsies. They had called him the Rai - the Master - and had flocked to his magnificent funeral on a Welsh mountain. But of his grandfather's private life he was told nothing, nor of the mysterious aunt who joined the family after his death. In fact only sixty years later did the truth begin to emerge. This book follows a trail of clues to uncover an extraordinary hidden life and a gypsy world now disappeared.
John Sampson was a brilliant philologist who, happening to encounter a gypsy tribe in North Wales, compiled over thirty years a dictionary of the Romani language that remains the standard work. But he also became a Bohemian himself, a bigamist and the father of a child who was brought up secretly and who would in turn become a remarkable scholar. Using intimate letters, bawdy rhymes and wonderful illustrations- including many by Augustus John who was part of the circle - Anthony Sampson brings to life a group of scholars, writers and painters who escaped Victorian convention to pursue an alternative life in the Welsh hills.
The Scholar Gypsy is both a detective story and a moving voyage of discovery. Ranging through finely observed contrasts and connections it illuminates many lesser-known aspects of Victorian and Edwardian Britain and vividly conveys the spell that gypsies cast on the imagination of artists and writers, and the fear that they arouse among the conventional.
Anthony Terrell Seward Sampson (3 August 1926 - 18 December 2004) was a British writer and journalist. He was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford and served with the Royal Navy from 1944-47. During the 1950s he edited the magazine Drum in Johannesburg, South Africa. During this time, Sampson met and formed relationships with future leaders such as Nelson Mandela, and writers like Nadine Gordimer.
On returning to the United Kingdom he joined the editorial staff of The Observer, where he worked from 1955-66. Sampson was the author of a series of major books, starting with Anatomy of Britain (1962). His main themes were how Britain works as a state, and large corporations. He was also a founding member of the (now defunct) Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Sampson went on to write several other books about South Africa, including The Treason Cage: The Opposition On Trial In South Africa (1958), Common Sense About Africa (1960) and South Africa: Two Views Of Separate Development (1960) with S. Pienaar.
Sampson was the author of several books on Britain, which began with Anatomy of Britain (1963). In these works he focused on an explanation of the British state and the functioning of large corporations.
In 1977, Sampson began contributing to Newsweek, and it was during this time that he worked as an editorial consultant to the Brandt Commission. By the 1980s, Sampson was editing The Sampson Letter, and establishing links with the ANC in exile, as the apartheid era began to draw to a close.
Sampson has narrated series for the BBC, and has held positions in various organisations including Chairman of The Society of Authors, trustee of the Guardian and Observer's Trust, and a member of the international advisory board of Independent Newspapers (South Africa).
Sampson also wrote an official biography of Mandela, entitled Mandela: The Authorised Biography (1999), which won the Alan Paton Award.
Sampson wrote his autobiography, The Anatomist, before he died of a heart attack on 18 December 2004. He is survived by his wife, Sally (whom he married in 1965), and his two children.