Frances Stonor Saunders

Frances Saunders

Frances Stonor Saunders is a British journalist and historian.

A few years after graduating in 1987 with a first-class Honours degree in English from St Anne’s College, Oxford, she embarked on a career as a television film-maker. Hidden Hands: A Different History of Modernism, made for Channel 4 in 1995, discussed the connection between various American art critics and Abstract Expressionist painters with the CIA. Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War (1999) (in the USA: The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters), her first book, developed from her work on the documentary, concentrating on the history of the covertly CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom. Stonor Saunders’ other works reflect her academic background as a medievalist.

In 2005, after some years as the arts editor and associate editor of the New Statesman, she resigned in protest over the sacking of Peter Wilby, the then-editor. In 2004 and 2005 for Radio 3, she presented Meetings of Minds, two three-part series on the meetings of intellectuals at significant points in history. She is also a regular contributor to Radio 3’s Nightwaves and other radio programmes.

Her second book, Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman (The Devil’s Broker in the US), recounts the life and career of John Hawkwood, a condottiere of the 14th century. English-born, Hawkwood (1320–1394) made a notorious career as a participant in the confused and treacherous power politics of the Papacy, France, and Italy.

The Woman Who Shot Mussolini (2010) is a biography of Violet Gibson, the Anglo-Irish aristocrat who shot Benito Mussolini in 1926, wounding him slightly.