Private Eye: The First 50 Years

50 years book

Published to celebrate the satirical organ’s half-century in 2011, this lavishly-illustrated book contains extensive and exclusive interviews with contributors past and present, including editors Richard Ingrams and Ian Hislop, as well as a wealth of never-before-seen photos, unpublished cartoons and archive material. A top ten bestseller!

Buy Private Eye: The First 50 Years, an A-Z from Amazon


“A cracking new history of the magazine.” – Sunday Times

Book of the week: A volume of gloriously prescient send-ups… There are many gems in this sumptuous coffee-table production, which is arranged as one huge index, with articles on the first edition, its founders (Paul Foot, Richard Ingrams, Christopher Booker and Willie Rushton), and the origins of just about every spoof byline and column for which the paper is famous.” – Edwina Currie, the Times

“Tremendously interesting and might even be an Important Social Document. EJ Thribb, ‘talking about Uganda’, Dave Spart, Glenda Slag, the origins of all are explained, and the Eye’s truly poisonous streak in the late 1970s owned up to. Not everyone on the staff is a hero. There’s never a dull page.” – Ian Jack, Guardian

“One of the best books about journalism” – Press Gazette

“The spankingly appealing and classy new anniversary biog by Adam Macqueen is a rewarding must for any Eye devotee.” – Frank Keating, Guardian

“Eschewing yet another dry weighty tome on the satire boom, Macqueen opted to write a casual-reader-friendly A-Z which can be perused cover-to-cover or kept beside the toilet and dipped into as and when. Despite being self-published by the Eye after the initial co-publishers dropped out (‘libel fears’ says Macqueen) the A-Z is no puff piece. Macqueen was able to write the book free from editorial control, and when he did finally present the proofs to Ian Hislop for approval, the editor ‘simply pointed out three typos’… We should also point out that it is very, very funny.” – Wayne Gooderham, Time Out

“So glossy it dazzles the eye and packed with coloured pictures, unlike the magazine, it is different from the publications that are satirised as littering the ‘lounges’ of suburbia. The beautifully written commentary which holds the book together contains less than complimentary stories about the men and women who made the magazine it celebrates. And the text dares to offend against even the most sacred of taboos. One entry in its alphabetical list of published features is headed: ‘Diana – Princess, death of and subsequent lunacy.’ If there is a hero, it is Peter Cook, Private Eye’s occasional proprietor and constant help in times of trouble…” – Roy Hattersley, Times

“It’s gorgeous. A recommended read.” – Shaun Keaveny, BBC 6 Music

“What is the secret behind the institution described in this enjoyable if slightly self-congratulatory tribute as ‘Britain’s first, most successful and indeed only fortnightly satirical magazine’?… Adam Macqueen joined the little gang on work experience in 1997, and has been there pretty much ever since. His book is an A-Z encyclopaedia based on research and interviews with contributors. All the Eye’s great scoops are listed, including the first mention of the scandal that would end the Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe’s career in disgrace. It was the Eye that first reported the unusual number of child deaths at a Bristol heart unit; it was the first to reveal that prime minister Harold Macmillan’s wife was having an affair with a Tory MP, and that Cecil Parkinson’s secretary was pregnant with his child. In 1972, Reggie Maudling resigned as home secretary after the Eye revealed his links to a corrupt property developer.” – Roland White, Sunday Times

“An A-Z of the paper’s triumphs and defeats, its luminaries and hangers-on, its enemies and bêtes noires. The in-house author Adam Macqueen recycles many of the good old stories and tells us much new about the comings and goings at the magazine.” – Jeremy Harding, London Review of Books

“Having read Adam Macqueen’s commendably exhaustive encyclopaedia of Private Eye, the British satirical fortnightly, I now feel I know rather more about Lord Gnome’s organ than I wish to. Still, this could be because I knew a fair bit about it to begin with, and Macqueen’s book has filled in the blanks… To look back over the catalogue of its stories, from the Profumo Scandal, to Deepcut, from T Dan Smith to Trafigura, is to turn back the pages of a book of wholly honourable revelation.” – Will Self, Guardian

“The book I’d like in my stocking… The Eye has given me more consistent pleasure, pain and provocation than any other publication in my lifetime.” – Michael Palin, Observer

“Sometimes the most serious messages are best expressed with humour… The book I’d love to receive.” – Shami Chakrabarti, Observer

“I was instantly addicted and have just devoured this fabulous, gossipy 310-page history by Adam Macqueen.” – Kelvin McKenzie, Daily Mail

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