Simon Atterbury
Member of Parliament
Born September 26th, 1924
Full name Simon Francis Atterbury
Constituency Tooting
Political Party Labour
Religion Church of England
Spouse Annie Atterbury
Office(s) Held Shadow Secretary for the Arts

Simon Atterbury (born September 26th, 1924) is a British politician. He is the Labour Member of Parliament for Tooting and has been Shadow Secretary of State for the Arts since 1970.

Early Life Edit

Atterbury is the son of an engineer and was brought up in a middle-class environment. He attended Fircroft Primary School and Battersea Grammar School. In 1942 he won an exhibition in classics at King's College, Cambridge and and was elected President of the Cambridge Students' Union on his second attempt. During the later stages of World War II he served in the Royal Air Force, spending most of his time in India.

In 1949 he married Anne Hall, a barrister. They have a son, William, and a daughter, Elizabeth.

Journalist and AuthorEdit

Upon graduating from Cambridge, Atterbury worked for several years as a freelance writer before being hired as an arts journalist at The Daily Herald in 1948. He wrote from a neutral perspective on the arts until 1960 when the newspaper was purchased by The Daily Mirror and re-launched as The Sun.

In 1950, Atterbury had his first book published, entitled But Is It Art? A Study of Post-Modernism followed by a biography, The Life of Horace Walpole, six years later. Since the start of his political career, Atterbury has written two books dealing with politics – Roof Over My Head: The Welfare State in 1965 and The Common People in 1970.

After being elected to Parliament, Atterbury returned to journalism in 1968, writing as a political columnist in the Mirrorscope, a four-page supplement included in the The Daily Mirror that gave serious analysis to issues in addition to usual tabloid content. Atterbury contributed regularly until being appointed to Harold Wilson’s Shadow Cabinet in 1970.

Political Career Edit

Atterbury joined the Labour Party in 1946 and joined the Fabian Society in 1949. He was elected to the Wandsworth Borough Council in 1960 and served a full four years before stepping down. In 1966, he was elected MP for Wandsworth Central, which was redrawn as Tooting for the 1974 election. In 1970, Atterbury was appointed Shadow Secretary of Stae for the Arts when the Labour Party was voted into opposition.

Radio AppearancesEdit

Atterbury has attained status as a minor celebrity due to four appearances on the BBC Radio 4 radio comedy panel game Just a Minute. He gained a reputation for weaving long, elaborate monologues on esoteric subjects relating to British artists or styles of architecture. He also often challenged himself before anyone else on the show had a chance to do so. He has often praised the rules of Just a Minute and said he hopes the House of Commons adopts similar standards.


Preceded by:
David Kerr
Member of Parliament for Wandsworth Central
Succeeded by:
constituency abolished
Preceded by:
new constituency
Member of Parliament for Tooting
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Shadow Secretary of State for the Arts
Succeeded by:
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