Amiel, Barbara

Barbara Amiel, journalist and Lady Black of Crossharbour (b at Hertfordshire, Eng 1940). Barbara Amiel immigrated to Hamilton, Ontario, with her mother in 1952 where at the age of 14 she won first prize in a Hamilton Spectator essay contest. After graduating from University of Toronto (BA 1963) she went to work as a researcher at the CBC until 1968, then drifted through Hollywood before launching a career as a freelance writer in 1973.

During the 1970s - in part through the influence of George Jonas, to whom she was briefly married and with whom she wrote the best-selling book By Persons Unknown: The Strange Death of Christine Demeter (1977) - her political convictions were recast from left to right, a process described in her memoir, Confessions (1980). Persons Unknown won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best Non-Fiction in 1978, and Confessions won the Canadian Periodical Publishers' Prize.

On assignment in Mozambique in 1980 she was jailed and contracted malaria and typhoid. As senior writer, associate editor and then columnist at Maclean's magazine since 1976, and as editor of the Toronto Sun (1983-85), she wrote acid, witty and often rigorously argued commentaries that earned her respect and notoriety. In 1985 she moved to England, where she became a widely regarded, if controversial, columnist for the Times of London (1986-90). In 1991 she was named senior political columnist for the Sunday Times, the first woman to hold that position. She married Canadian tycoon Conrad Black in 1992 and became vice president of one of Black's companies, Hollinger International, and began writing for the Daily Telegraph.