Times signs up 'alchemist of buzz' Brown

Brown in London earlier this year

Times editor Robert Thomson has signed up former Talk editor Tina Brown as a columnist in a six-figure deal negotiated by top literary agent Ed Victor.

Brown will have a wide-ranging brief to write a weekly column from the US in the T2 section, starting in two weeks’ time.

Speaking from her home in New York, Brown, who made her name as a writer on The Sunday Times and later married former Times editor Harold Evans, said it was "a bit like going back to the future". "The Times is a wonderful newspaper with tremendous cachet in the States. People in the US understand its importance.

"I had a lot of offers to recreate the diary I wrote for Talk, including one from Vanity Fair, but I thought it would be fun to do it for a British outlet. I realised when I started doing the Talk column how much I had missed writing. I really like the idea of interpreting and explaining America to Times readers."

Thomson, who described Brown as "just about the best-connected person in the world", said he was delighted The Times was her "preferred home".

"The column will be typically and uniquely Tina, who has always been the alchemist of buzz. Now she will be able to translate that alchemy into the written word."

He added that Nicholas Wapshott, who writes a weekly column from the US, had been kept informed about negotiations and his role is likely to be redefined but there was no question of him being called back to London.

The deal was struck after an approach from Victor, who said he didn’t contact any other newspapers because he "didn’t want to drag Tina around in some sort of auction" and felt The Times was her "natural home".

Neither he nor Thomson would say how much the deal was worth, but when asked if it was six-figures, Victor said simply: "Of course."

By Philippa Kennedy

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