Rachel Cooke

Guardian News & Media

Rachel Cooke, is an award winning and acclaimed writer and critic, as well as the author of Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties (published by Virago). A multi talented journalist, it is fair to say that books are probably her first love and she brings authority and deep knowledge to her criticism in this area, an area in which she is widely acknowledged to be one of the best.

Her reviews are always illuminating and enlightening, but the breadth of knowledge she possesses is worn lightly and her reviews are just a delight to read; never a dull moment, they are hugely entertaining; sometimes mischievous, always probing. She is also the bravest of reviewers, speaking as she finds and nailing worlds in a single sentence - as in this line from her review of Edward Enninful’s memoir A Visible Man: ‘Blimey. I know grandeur’s traditional when you’re the editor of Vogue; Enninful’s boss, Anna Wintour, is reputed to be able to freeze innards at 100 yards (though not his, perhaps – later on, he commits to paper the treacherous notion that when he worked for her at US Vogue, he was “creatively stifled”).’ Our readers love her reviews and they regularly hit over 50,000 page views on our web site, with, in many cases, extremely strong read times relative to length - including an exceptionally high attention rate for her recent review of Tina Brown’s The Palace Papers, a book that impressed her: ‘...this bit of the book fairly rips along, the bastard child of Jilly Cooper and Tom Wolfe. Like Queen Mary, who once said to a relative: “We [the royal family] are never tired”, Brown is quite inexhaustible. Her wit and way with words make her a must read in our books pages. She is shrewd, insightful, honest to a fault and capable, as well, of being reduced to tears by a book as she was by Melvyn Bragg’s memoir published earlier this year: 'I was on the bus when it happened: racked by an unexpected sob, as if some invisible hand had reached inside me and flicked the switch marked tears.' Books matter to her and when they hit the mark they move her.