Stanley Johnson (writer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stanley Johnson
Johnson in 2011
Member of the European Parliament
for Wight and Hampshire East
In office
7 June 1979 – 14 June 1984
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byRichard Simmonds
Personal details
Stanley Patrick Johnson

(1940-08-18) 18 August 1940 (age 82)
Penzance, Cornwall, England
  • United Kingdom
  • France[1]
Political partyConservative
  • Wilfred Johnson (father)
  • Irene Williams (mother)
EducationExeter College, Oxford (BA)
Columbia University

Stanley Patrick Johnson (born 18 August 1940) is a British-French[3] author[4] and former politician who was Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Wight and Hampshire East from 1979 to 1984. A former employee of the World Bank and the European Commission, he has written books on environmental and population issues. His six children include Boris Johnson, who was prime minister of the United Kingdom from 2019 to 2022. He is a member of the Conservative Party.

Personal life[edit]

Stanley Johnson was born in 1940 in Penzance, Cornwall, the son of Osman Kemal (later known as Wilfred Johnson) and Irene Williams (daughter of Stanley Fred Williams of Bromley, Kent, who was the grandson of Sir George Williams,[5] and Marie Louise de Pfeffel).[6][7] His paternal grandfather, Ali Kemal Bey, one of the last interior ministers of the Ottoman government, was assassinated in 1922 during the Turkish War of Independence. Stanley's father was born in 1909 in Bournemouth, and his birth was registered as Osman Ali Wilfred Kemal.[8] Osman's Anglo-Swiss mother Winifred Brun died shortly after giving birth.[9] Ali Kemal returned to the Ottoman Empire in 1912, whereafter Osman Wilfred and his sister Selma were brought up by their English grandmother, Margaret Brun, and took her maiden name, Johnson, Stanley's father thus becoming Wilfred Johnson.[10]

Johnson's maternal grandmother's parents were Hubert Freiherr von Pfeffel (born in Munich in the Kingdom of Bavaria on 8 December 1843) and his wife Hélène Arnous-Rivière (born on 14 January 1862). Hubert von Pfeffel was the son of Karl Freiherr von Pfeffel (born in Dresden in the Kingdom of Saxony on 22 November 1811; died in Munich on 25 January 1890) by his marriage in Augsburg on 16 February 1836 to Karolina von Rothenburg (born in the Free City of Frankfurt on 28 November 1805; died in Frankfurt on 13 February 1872), herself said to be the illegitimate daughter of Prince Paul of Württemberg by Friederike Porth.

Stanley Johnson attended Sherborne School, Dorset. While still an undergraduate studying English at Exeter College, Oxford, he took part in the Marco Polo Expedition with Tim Severin and Michael de Larrabeiti, travelling on a motorcycle and sidecar from Oxford to Venice and on to India and Afghanistan. The adventure led to the publication of Severin's 1964 book Tracking Marco Polo, with photographs by de Larrabeiti.

While studying at Columbia University in 1963, Johnson married the painter Charlotte Fawcett in Marylebone, with whom he had four children: Boris, former Leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Rachel, journalist and former editor-in-chief of The Lady; Jo, former Conservative MP for Orpington, former Minister of State for Universities, and former Head of the Lex Column at the Financial Times; and Leo, film-maker and entrepreneur.[11] He dropped out of Columbia after a year.[12] Johnson and Fawcett divorced in 1979. He married Jennifer Kidd in Westminster in 1981 and they had two children, Julia and Maximilian.[13][14][15]

In July 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson posted pictures on Instagram of himself travelling to Athens, Greece. He was criticised by Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone for travelling at a time when guidance under lockdown was to avoid "all but essential international travel".[16] At the time, Greece had reopened its borders but banned direct travel from the United Kingdom; Johnson had circumvented Greece's rules by travelling via Bulgaria.[17]

In December 2020, Johnson stated that he was applying for a French passport to retain mobility and residence rights in the European Union, saying: "It's not a question of becoming French. If I understand correctly I am French! My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandfather."[18][19]


Johnson has previously worked at the World Bank and was the Head of Prevention of Pollution Division at the European Commission from 1973 to 1979.[citation needed] He has a great interest in the environment.[citation needed] In 2010 he became chairman of the Gorilla Organisation, a body dedicated to saving the world's last remaining gorillas from extinction.[20] He was previously a board member of Plantlife International.


At the 2005 general election, Johnson stood for the Conservative Party in the constituency of Teignbridge, where he came second behind Richard Younger-Ross of the Liberal Democrats.

In May 2008, Johnson hoped to be selected to contest his son Boris's parliamentary seat of Henley for the Conservative Party. However, the local Conservative party had chosen three local people as possible candidates[21] and on 30 May, local councillor John Howell was selected to fight the by-election.[22]

Having supported the Remain campaign during the 2016 European Union membership referendum, in October 2017 he came out in support of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, stating that "the time has come to bail out" and cited the approach and attitude of the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker as a major factor in his change of mind. He added that argument and debate over the length or detail of any transition or implementation period is expected but the ultimate "end-state" of the UK leaving the European Union is decided.[23]

Books and other writing[edit]

He has published a number of books dealing with environmental issues and nine novels, including The Commissioner, which was made into a 1998 film starring John Hurt. In 1962 he won the Newdigate Prize for Poetry.

The Marburg Virus (1982, Heinemann) ISBN 0-434-37704-X

His 2015 novel The Virus is a thriller about the rise of a mysterious virus and the fight to stop a deadly pandemic[24]

He has written a memoir, Stanley I Presume, which was published in March 2009.[25]

For a time, starting on 26 May 2005, he wrote a weekly column for the G2 section of The Guardian, and continues to write for various newspapers and magazines, often on environmental topics.[citation needed]


He was one of the first regular hosts of the late night discussion programme The Last Word on Channel 4's More4 channel, and made an appearance on Have I Got News For You on 7 May 2004.[26][better source needed]

In November 2017, Johnson was confirmed as a contestant for the seventeenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!.[27] He was the fifth person to be eliminated from the show, finishing in seventh place. In 2018, alongside eight other celebrities, he appeared on the BBC programme The Real Marigold Hotel.

In February 2020 he appeared on BBC Two's Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.[28]


In 1983 he received the RSPCA Richard Martin Award for Outstanding Services to animal welfare. He was for many years an ambassador for the UNEP Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals based in Bonn, Germany.

In October 2015 Johnson was awarded the RSPB Medal by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for his role in the creation of one of the cornerstones of Europe's nature conservation policy – the Habitats Directive (1992).[29]

In December 2015 he received the World Wide Fund for Nature Leader for a Living Planet Award.[30]

Public statements[edit]

In August 2018, Johnson said his son Boris Johnson's comments that Muslim women who wear burkas look like "letterboxes" and "bank robbers" did not go far enough, and that criticism of the comments had been "synthetic indignation" created by political opponents.[31]

In November 2019, Johnson appeared on BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show and was told that one viewer had called his son Boris "Pinocchio". Johnson replied, "Pinocchio? That requires a degree of literacy which I think the Great British public doesn't necessarily have." Johnson defended his statement by arguing that he was being humorous and said that it was "utterly absurd and wrong that you can read out on air a tweet coming in from one of your readers which calls the prime minister a liar. I think it is amazing you can do that".[32]

In June 2022, ahead of Johnson's visit to China for a television programme on the explorer Marco Polo, Johnson called for the UK parliament to lift a ban on the Chinese ambassador to the UK entering the parliamentary estate.[33]

Allegations of spousal abuse and inappropriate touching[edit]

Biographer Tom Bower records in an interview with his first wife Charlotte Fawcett that 'he hit me many times, over many years'. On one occasion in the 1970s he broke her nose, with Fawcett stating: "He broke my nose. He made me feel like I deserved it. I want the truth to be told."[11][34][35]. She also suffered a nervous breakdown which required several months of treatment in a psychiatric ward[36]

On 15 November 2021, Caroline Nokes accused Johnson of inappropriately touching her at the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool in 2003.[37] Johnson said that he had "no recollection of Caroline Nokes at all".[37] Following this, journalist Ailbhe Rea accused Johnson of groping her at the 2019 Conservative Party conference.[38][39]


  • Gold Drain (1967, Heinemann) ISBN B0000CNKG6
  • Panther Jones for President (1968, Heinemann) ISBN 0-434-37701-5
  • Life without Birth: A Journey Through the Third World in Search of the Population Explosion (1970, Heinemann) ISBN 0-434-37702-3
  • The Green Revolution (1972, Hamilton) ISBN 0-241-02102-2
  • The Population Problem (1973, David & C) ISBN 0-7153-6282-8
  • The Politics of Environment (1973, T Stacey) ISBN 0-85468-298-8
  • The Urbane Guerilla (1975, Macmillan) ISBN 0-333-17679-0
  • Pollution Control Policy of the EEC (1978, Graham & Trotman) ISBN 0-86010-136-3
  • The Doomsday Deposit (1979, EP Dutton) ISBN 0-525-09468-7
  • The Marburg Virus (1982, Heinemann) ISBN 0-434-37704-X
  • Tunnel (1984, Heinemann) ISBN 0-434-37705-8
  • Antarctica: The Last Great Wilderness (1985, Weidenfeld & N) ISBN 0-297-78676-8
  • The Commissioner (1987, Century) ISBN 0-7126-1587-3
  • World Population and the United Nations (1987, Cambridge UP) ISBN 0-521-32207-3
  • Dragon River (1989, Frederick Muller) ISBN 0-09-173526-2
  • The Earth Summit: The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) (1993, Kluwer Law International) ISBN 978-1-85333-784-0
  • World Population - Turning the Tide (1994, Kluwer Law International) ISBN 1-85966-046-0
  • The Environmental Policy of the European Communities (1995, Kluwer Law International) ISBN 90-411-0862-9
  • The Politics of Population: Cairo, 1994 (1995, Earthscan) ISBN 1-85383-297-9
  • Icecap (1999, Cameron May) ISBN 1-874698-67-8
  • Stanley I Presume (2009, Fourth Estate Ltd) ISBN 0-00-729672-X
  • Survival: Saving Endangered Migratory Species [co-authored with Robert Vagg] (2010, Stacey International) ISBN 1-906768-11-0
  • Where the Wild Things Were: Travels of a Conservationist (2012, Stacey International) ISBN 1-906768-87-0
  • UNEP The First 40 Years; A Narrative by Stanley Johnson (2012, United Nations Environment Programme) ISBN 978-92-807-3314-3
  • Stanley I Resume (2014, Biteback) ISBN 978-1-84954-741-3
  • The Virus (2015, Witness Impulse) ISBN 978-0062414922[40]
  • Kompromat (2017, Point Blank) ISBN 978-1-78607-246-7


  1. ^ "Stanley Johnson becomes French to keep link with EU". BBC. 20 May 2022.
  2. ^ "Stanley Johnson". Profile. 4 August 2012. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  3. ^ "Stanley Johnson becomes French to keep link with EU".
  4. ^ "Family of influence behind Boris Johnson". UK Daily Telegraph. 3 May 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  5. ^ Gimson, Andrew (2012). Boris: The Adventures of Boris Johnson. London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780857207395.
  6. ^ "Deaths", The Times, p. 1, 1 December 1944.
  7. ^ Istanbul, Lorraine Mallinder in. "Istanbul Letter: Lunch with Boris Johnson's Turkish cousin". The Irish Times. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  8. ^ Register of Births for the Christchurch Registration District, volume 2b (Dec 1909), p. 621: "KAMAL, Osman Wilfred"
  9. ^ Register of Deaths for the Christchurch Registration District, volume 2b (Dec 1909), p. 417: "KAMAL, Winifred"
  10. ^ "Istanbul Letter: Lunch with Boris Johnson's Turkish cousin". The Irish Times. 2016.
  11. ^ a b Rodger, Hannah (4 October 2020). "Stanley Johnson 'broke wife's nose' in domestic violence incident". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  12. ^ Barber, Lynn (18 December 2019). "'I've had two totally successful marriages': Stanley Johnson interviewed | The Spectator". Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  13. ^ Walden, Celia (11 April 2008). "Stanley Johnson: The man who made Boris". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  14. ^ Killen, Mary (March 2015). "Boris Johnson's mother on her brilliant brood". Tatler. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  16. ^ "PM's father criticised for lockdown trip to Greece". BBC News. 3 July 2020. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  17. ^ Busby, Mattha; Smith, Helena (4 July 2020). "Stanley Johnson says Greece visit is essential to 'Covid-proof' villa". The Observer. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  18. ^ Taylor, Harry (31 December 2020). "Stanley Johnson confirms application for French passport on eve of Brexit". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 January 2021. For me it's a question of obtaining what I already have and I am very happy about that.
  19. ^ "Brexit: Boris Johnson's father applies for French citizenship". BBC News. 31 December 2020.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ "Stanley Johnson".
  21. ^ "Johnson's father in election snub". BBC News. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2008.
  22. ^ "Tory candidate chosen for Henley". BBC News. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2008.
  23. ^ Perring, Rebecca (6 October 2017). "Boris Johnson's Remainer dad now backs Brexit – thanks to JUNCKER". Daily Express. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  24. ^ Stanley Johnson (2015), The Virus, HarperCollins
  25. ^ "Stanley Johnson's website - Books page".
  26. ^ "IMDB". IMDb. 7 May 2004. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  27. ^ "Meet your 2017 Celebrity Campmates!". ITV. 14 November 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  28. ^ "BBC Two - Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, Series 9, Episode 18".
  29. ^ "Stanley Johnson awarded RSPB medal". RSPB. 10 October 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  30. ^ "Founders of nature laws awarded as WWF leaders". WWF. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  31. ^ Murphy, Joe (14 August 2018). "Boris Johnson's family at war as his brother raps 'bigotry' of burka jibes". Evening Standard. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  32. ^ Belam, Martin (29 November 2019). "Boris Johnson's father says UK public 'couldn't spell Pinocchio'". The Guardian.
  33. ^ "Stanley Johnson calls for ban on Chinese ambassador to be lifted". The Independent. 22 June 2022. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  34. ^ Barber, Lynn (22 October 2020). "Tom Bower pulls his punches with his life of Boris Johnson | The Spectator". The Spectator. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  35. ^ Freedland, Jonathan (13 October 2020). "Boris Johnson: The Gambler by Tom Bower review – the defining secret". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  36. ^ Hislop, Iain (17 March 2023). "Arise, Sire Wife Beater!". Private Eye.
  37. ^ a b Rigby, Beth (15 November 2021). "Stanley Johnson accused of inappropriately touching senior Conservative MP". Sky News. Retrieved 16 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  38. ^ "Stanley Johnson accused of inappropriately touching Conservative MP and journalist". ITV News. 16 November 2021. Retrieved 16 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  39. ^ "Two women accuse PM's father Stanley Johnson of inappropriate touching". BBC News. 17 November 2021. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  40. ^ Stanley Johnson (2015), The Virus, HarperCollins

External links[edit]

European Parliament
New constituency Member of the European Parliament
for Wight and Hampshire East

Succeeded by