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Malcolm Muggeridge : biography

24 March 1903 - 14 November 1990

Thomas Malcolm Muggeridge (24 March 1903 – 14 November 1990GRO Register of Births; Malcolm Muggeridge, My Life in Pictures.) was an English journalist, author, media personality, and satirist. During World War II, he was a soldier and a spy. In his early life a left-wing sympathiser, Muggeridge later became a forceful anti-communist. He is credited with popularising Mother Teresa and in his later years became a Catholic and moral campaigner.

World War II

When war was declared, Muggeridge went to Maidstone to join up but was sent away at this point – "My generation felt they'd missed the First War, now was the time to make up."Muggeridge Ancient And Modern, BBC He was called into the Ministry of Information, which he called "a most appalling set-up", and then joined the army as a private. He joined the Corps of Military Police and was commissioned on the General List in May 1940. He transferred to the Intelligence Corps as a Lieutenant in June 1942. Having spent two years as a Regimental Intelligence Officer in England, by 1942 he was in MI6, and had been posted to Lourenço Marques as a bogus vice-consul (called a Special Correspondent by London Controlling Section).Thadeus Holt, The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War, New York: Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2007, p. 332.

His mission was to prevent information about Allied convoys off the coast of Africa falling into enemy handsMuggeridge , Ancient & Modern BBCTV – he wrote later also of a suicide attempt at this time. After the Allied occupation of North Africa he was posted to Algiers as liaison officer with the French sécurité militaire. In this capacity he was sent to Paris at the time of the liberation, working alongside Charles de Gaulle's Free French Forces. He had a high regard for de Gaulle, and considered him a greater man than Churchill.The Archive Hour, St Mugg, First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 19 April 2003 He was warned to expect some anti-British feeling in Paris because of the attack on Mers-el-Kébir. In fact Muggeridge (speaking on the BBC retrospective programme Muggeridge: Ancient & Modern) said that he encountered no such feeling – indeed he had been allowed, on occasion, to eat and drink for nothing at Maxim's. He was assigned to make an initial investigation into P. G. Wodehouse's five broadcasts from Berlin during the war. Though he was prepared to dislike Wodehouse, the interview became the start of a lifelong friendship and publishing relationship. It was also during this period that he in Paris, about the nature of her involvement with the Nazis in Vichy France during the war. Muggeridge ended the war as a Captain, having received a medal for undisclosed reasons.

Literary Society

An eponymous Literary Society was established on 24 March 2003, the occasion of his centenary, and it publishes a quarterly newsletter, The Gargoyle. The Malcolm Muggeridge Society, based in Britain, is progressively republishing Muggeridge's works. Muggeridge's papers are in the Special Collections at Wheaton College, Illinois.


His style was parodied in early live versions of the Pink Floyd track The Great Gig in the Sky, which featured snippets of his speeches, reordered as gibberish. In 1979, he criticised John Cleese and Michael Palin during a television debate concerned with the perceived blasphemy of the film Life of Brian, despite having arrived late for the showing, thus missing the two scenes in which Jesus and Brian were shown as two separate people at the same time. The comedians expressed disappointment in Muggeridge, whom all in Monty Python had previously respected as a satirist. Cleese expressed that his reputation had "plummeted" in his eyes, while Palin commented, "He was just being Muggeridge, preferring to have a very strong contrary opinion as opposed to none at all."

In 1982, aged 79, he joined the Catholic Church along with his wife Kitty. This was largely because of the influence of Mother Teresa, about whom he had written a book, Something Beautiful for God, setting out and interpreting her life. His last book Conversion, published in 1988 and recently republished, describes his life as a 20th century pilgrimage, a spiritual journey. Muggeridge was a controversial figure, known in earlier life as a drinker, heavy smoker, and womaniser, only to become later a leading figure in the Nationwide Festival of Light of 1971, protesting against the commercial exploitation of sex and violence in Britain and advocating the teaching of Christ as the key to recovering moral stability in the nation.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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