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News > Visitors to The Mitre > Where are they now? Jeremy Lawrence (1952F)

Where are they now? Jeremy Lawrence (1952F)

A successful career as a journalist and publisher with a very wide circle of friends.

Jeremy Lawrence (1952F) visited us at the Mitre recently following the death of his friend Charles Lipp (1952F).  This offered us an opportunity to catch up and find out what he is up to.

He is currently based in Rondebosch (in a lovely Victorian house in Roukoop Road, just around the corner from Bishops) where he has been living since 1997.  At age 88 he is still writing but enjoys leisure pursuits like bridge, fiendishly difficult crossword puzzles and  brain teasers.  He still is part of the committee of the Friends of Cape Town Opera and has very recently resigned as a committee member,  from the Historical Society of Cape Town. For many years he was editor of its annual publication, CABO.  Another of his intersts was the Venacular Architecture Society of South Africa of which he was the Secretary for a number of years.  He is still a member of the Owl Club established in 1896, a unique cultural society that many ODs past and present have belonged to.  Jeremy said that the Owl Club has now opened its doors to women and that this decision has delighted all its members. 

He lives with his regal cat who is thought to be 18 years old and goes by the name of Alexander Pushkin.  One of Jeremy's "modest" hobbies, is to paint watercolours.  Often Alexander Pushkin makes his way into his artwork!   Alexander is affectionately viewed as his step child with whom he enjoys spending quality time.  Of course, this said with mirth. 

Jeremy firmly believes that you should keep your mind lively and active and keep moving.  He has had a full life so far, with a successful career as a journalist and publisher.

Following his visit to us, Jeremy wrote a brief account of his life that we would like to share with you:

I was born on 21 June 1935 and entered Bishops Prep as a day-boy in 1944. I spent the next nine years of my school life as a border, at Rossall and then,  was at Founders when I moved to the Senior School.  I was there until my post-matric year, 1953. 

My academic record was consistent: year by year I won the form prize and many other prizes, as well as two scholarships; and matriculated in the First Class with five distinctions (an achievement equalled in the previous year only by my elder brother Christopher).  At the University of Cape Town I then took a BA degree, majoring in English and French (1st class).

Though I had accepted a place at Pembroke College, Cambridge (where the Rev Charles Searle, a brother of my great-grandfather, had been the Master), ill-health prevented me from going up to Cambridge until September 1958. There I was persuaded to read Economics, a subject which I found arduous; and to my disappointment the BA degree I obtained was only a Lower Second.  In my first year I took delight in rowing (as stroke) in my college’s freshmen boat.

My first job of work was in accounting and public relations at the London office of the Anglo American Corporation. It was unfulfilling.  At the end of 1963, I returned to South Africa, to begin a successful lifetime’s career in journalism and publishing. In succession I worked as a financial journalist for The Star newspaper in Johannesburg; editor of a monthly magazine, The South African Tatler; and features editor, in Cape Town, of a fortnightly magazine, Fair Lady, in which I had my own regular column “Fair Comment”.

I then returned to London, earning a precarious freelance living before becoming a full-time feature-writer for a popular weekly newspaper, Reveille, in the Daily Mirror group of papers.  It was a happy time. My many, varied assignments included flying in a glider and learning how to tap-dance.  It was at this time, too, that I wrote my first two little books: Mix Me a Metaphor and Unmentionables (and other Euphemisms).

On the death of my father, the MP and one-time cabinet minister Harry Lawrence, I returned to Cape Town, where I wrote my father’s biography (published by David Philip). In these years I was on the committee of the multiracial Space Theatre Club, editing the Club’s monthly news-letter.

In 1978 I returned for a final time to London.  There I found employment as a writer, researcher and editor for Time-Life Books, initially full-time and later on a freelance basis.  I was also a copy-editor for books printed by a number of other London-based publishing houses, and for some time lectured at the College of Journalism, off Fleet Street.   

Finally returning to the Cape in 1984, I was briefly sub-editor on the South African edition of Cosmopolitan magazine before working for Reader’s Digest Books. I was the principal writer of two of this company’s publications: Southern African Wildlife and South African Family Guide to Natural Medicine.

Under the imprint The Gryphon Press I have published a number of books, including some of my own.  These include my Buccaneer, a biography of Sir J B Robinson, and three slim volumes of light-hearted, illustrated verse, Foibles, Further Foibles and Talking Heads (“a choice collection of classical clerihews”). 

Neither Jeremy nor his brother Christopher (1951F) married or had children.  However, Jeremy considers himself to be very lucky to have a wide circle of friends both at home and abroad, and he holds them very dear.

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