Elizabeth Mary "Libby" Purves, OBE (born 2 February 1950) is a British
radio presenter, journalist and author.
1 Early life and career
2 Later career
3 Personal life
6 External links
Early life and career
Born in London, a diplomat's daughter, Purves was raised in her
mother's Catholic faith and educated at convent schools in Israel,
Bangkok, South Africa and France, and at Beechwood Sacred Heart
School, Tunbridge Wells.
Purves won a scholarship to St Anne's College, Oxford, where she was
awarded a first class degree in English. She was
elected Librarian of the Oxford Union. In 1971, she joined the
a studio manager. By the mid-1970s she was a regular presenter on BBC
Radio Oxford where she could be frequently heard on the station's
early morning shows. In 1976, she joined
Brian Redhead on the BBC's
Today programme.
In 1983 she was editor of Tatler magazine for four months.
For her column in
The Times newspaper, Purves was named columnist of
the year in 1999 and in the same year was appointed an OBE for
services to journalism. She has written books on
childcare, twelve novels including Mother Country, a memoir of
religious upbringing, Holy Smoke (1998), and a travel book, One
Summer's Grace (1989), about a 1,700-mile sailing journey round
Britain with children aged three and five.
Purves has a monthly column in the sailing magazine Yachting Monthly
and is a contributor to
The Oldie magazine. She was appointed a patron
of the British Art Music Series Trust  along with James MacMillan
and John Wilson. She served ten years as a Trustee of the National
In February 2010 she was appointed
The Times drama critic, succeeding
Benedict Nightingale, but her work for
The Times in this area ended
in autumn 2013.
On being sacked without explanation as Chief Theatre Critic, she
announced in the
London Evening Standard two days later, 13 October
2013, that her commitment to, and interest in, theatre commentary was
so great that she intended to continue, and on that day she
inaugurated theatrecat.com, a review website covering much the same
first nights as before.
Purves is in favour of gay rights, and has written articles supporting
this position. However, she has spoken out against the "coercive
liberalism, one-note righteousness" of the
National Trust following
its "outing" of Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, saying that "Crassly
reducing any human being to a sexuality, posthumously enlisting him or
her in a phantom regiment under your orders, is almost as belittling
as persecution itself."
In 2009, Purves debated at the
Cambridge Union against Dr. Glenn
Wilson and Rupert Myers on the motion This House Would Rather Be
Gay. Following a column on the anti-gay policies of Russian
President Vladimir Putin, Greek businessman
Demetri Marchessini took
out a quarter-page advertisement in
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph on 28 January
2014 to criticise her views on homosexuality and religion. According
to Purves, while Marchessini is "free to approve of the beatings and
hangings of young men across the world in the name of what he
considers religion" she is also "free to say he is a loony."
Purves presented Midweek on
BBC Radio 4 for 30 years, but left the
educational programme The Learning Curve in the 1990s.[citation
Purves is married to broadcaster Paul Heiney. The couple has one
surviving child. Their first child, Nicholas, died on
26 June 2006, at age 23. He hanged himself in the family home in
Westleton, Suffolk after a serious mental illness. A collection of
his poems and sea-logs of a Pacific journey under square rig, The
Silence at the Song's End, has been published, inspired a song cycle
by Joseph Phibbs, and was broadcast on Radio 4.
Britain at Play (1982)
Adventures Under Sail (1982)
Sailing Weekend Book (with Paul Heiney, 1985)
How Not To Be A Perfect Mother (1986)
One Summer's Grace (1989)
How Not to Raise a Perfect Child (1991)
How Not To Be The Perfect Family (1994)
Casting Off (1995)
A Long Walk in Wintertime (1996)
Home Leave (1997)
More Lives Than One (1998)
Holy Smoke (1998)
Passing Go (2000)
A Free Woman (2001)
Mother Country (2002)
Continental Drift (2003)
Acting Up (2004)
Love Songs and Lies (2005)
Shadow Child (2007)
^ "Presenters: Libby Purves". BBC. Archived from the original on 19
Libby Purves "Profane, sniggering, rum-swigging: my merry hell as
editor of Tatler", Daily Mail, 11 October 2009
^ "The British Art Music Series - BAM Series". bamseries.com.
Retrieved 13 April 2015.
^ Preston, Peter (7 February 2010). "A cinema critic who's making her
big-screen debut (Organ Grinder blog)". The Guardian.
^ Nicola Merrifield "Times axes theatre critic Libby Purves", The
Stage, 16 September 2013
Libby Purves 'axed' as lead theatre critic of The Times", What's On
Stage, 16 September 2013
^ Rejoice! Bring out the pink champagne, The Times, 12 December 2006.
^ "Gay-bashers bashed", The Times, 1 November 2007
^ Purves, Libby (7 August 2017). "
National Trust chases rainbows to
its cost". The Times. Retrieved 7 August 2017. (Subscription required
^ "This House Would Rather Be Gay : Free Download &
Streaming : Internet Archive". archive.org. Retrieved 13 April
Libby Purves gets a ticking off from Ukip",
Standard, 28 January 2014
^ Libby Purves: ‘There is no solution to grief’ Daily Mail
Online Retrieved 2016-11-04.
^ A testament of youth, The Times, 31 October 2007, accessed 15
Libby Purves's blog
The Silence at the Song's End by Nicholas Heiney, Libby Purves, Duncan
Wu (editor), Alan Parker (illustrator), Song's End Books (31 Oct 2007)
RE Nicholas Heiney's suicide
Editor of the Tatler
ISNI: 0000 0000 7833 508X
BNF: cb12444539b (da