The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown

“A reporter asked me which famous woman was my role model, a question that always leaves me stumped. I know it’s the wrong feminist answer, but most of my role models have been men. They always had the lives I wanted.” Tina Brown, 1987

Taken by Annie Leibovitz

Author: Tina Brown

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Publication Date: November 2017

Pages: 448

Genre: Memoir

Rating: 4.7 / 5

“The more fragmented we become as a culture, the more the media holds us together. Americans have less and less in common as a people, but we all watch the same TV shows and the same movies.” Tina Brown, 1989

the times
Photo by The Times

The Vanity Fair Diaries is composed of uninhibited journal entries by Tina Brown during her years as the Editor of Vanity Fair. It is witty, inspirational and an educational memoir. While revolutionizing Vanity Fair, Brown writes about her more relatable experiences like becoming a mother, caring for her aging parents and hiring a lawyer to negotiate her salary and benefits on her behalf. She is a literary superhero and inspiration to ambitious individuals who want a seat at the table.

Photo by New Statesman

Tina Brown is fierce, savvy, intelligent. At the age of 25 she became Editor-in-Chief of British magazine, Tatler. And at the age of 31, Brown became Editor of Vanity Fair where she saved the magazine from termination and in doing so, set forth on a path that radically altered the scope of American magazines. I have heaps of respect and admiration for Brown voyaging across the pond in pursuit of revitalizing and thereby saving Vanity Fair from it’s despair. Brown embarked on this journey without her husband, family or friends at a time when smartphones didn’t exist; that is bold. I am American, with smartphone in hand (way too often), friends and a boyfriend in NYC and I still cannot bring myself to move there. Hats off to Tina Brown.

demi moore
Vanity Fair’s August 1991 Cover; Photographer Annie Leibovitz

“We have wanted so much to do a story that moved Vanity Fair decisively on from the eighties, that made a statement of modernity, progressiveness, freshness, openness, after the Trump glitz of that decade. I have been beating my brains out looking for the social commentary that would achieve it. And now, in one simple, dazzling image, Annie [Leibovitz] has the home run. That is it. This is what a celebrity looks like in the nineties. Not just natural but au naturel! And it’s a wonderful feminist statement at the same time.” Tina Brown, 1991

I sought this book out at the Strand Book Store in New York City because I wanted to learn more about the publishing industry. VF Diaries did teach me about the workings of the industry’s upper echelon; however, what I found more intriguing was learning about the social dynamics and rituals of New York’s elite during the late 80s to early 90s. Brown illustrates the decades culture though journal entries that exemplify the anxiety of never having enough money to live comfortably in NYC, the loss and heartbreak brought on by the AIDS/HIV epidemic, the gilded lifestyle of businessmen like Donald Trump and realities of being a mother with a demanding career.

daily mail
Media Moguls, TB and Vogue’s Anna Wintour

“Tonight I got in to a sleeping G [her son] and H [her husband, Harold Evans] working and thought maybe, maybe! I could write this diary, play some music, allow myself to dream of another life of wanderlust and hedonism, but then G woke up and I have to spend an hour getting him back to sleep. I felt like throwing myself out the window. I just need three months of freedom, then I swear I will return to the good-goody track of purposeful achievement and maternal quality time. Fuck.” Tina Brown, 1989

Brown went on to be the Editor of The New Yorker then launched online news magazine, The Daily Beast in 2008 (one of my go-to sites for digestible news). More recently, Brown is Founder and CEO of Women in the World, a platform dedicated to giving much deserved attention to the voices of amazing women. For a well crafted and comprehensive interview on Brown’s journey to the top, listen here to Business Insider’s podcast, Success! How I Did It. In this interview, Brown briefly speaks about her regrettable business partnership with Harvey Weinstein, Talk magazine. All in all, Tina Brown is inspirational and I highly recommend reading her novel, The Vanity Fair Diaries.

Thank you for stopping by!

Photo by Forbes

“In New York, the decade’s biggest signifier would turn out to be a building, not a person: Trump Tower, the very definition of ersatz with its fool’s-gold facade, its flashy internal waterfall, its dodgy financing.” Tina Brown, 1983


“We must become the men we want to marry.” Gloria Steinem


“Everything in New York is about personal marketing.” Tina Brown, 1984


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P.S. If you are interested in learning more about Tina Brown, I found this article from The Cut entertaining.

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