A Party for Tony and Marcelle Quinton

Quinton and Marcelle party list 001Found among papers at Jot HQ ( heaven knows where it came from ) is this printed list of the good and great ( some not so good) who were invited by a friend or friends to attend a party for the philosopher (Lord) AnthonyQuinton and his American-born wife Marcelle ( nee Weiger), a sculptor.


We don’t know who drew up the list or when the event took place, although it must have been in or before 2003, the year in which one of the invited died. Nor do we know where it happened, although one must assume that since most of the invited were Americans, the venue was in the US, most probably in the home of the host and hostess. This could have been in New York City, where the Quintons had one of their  homes. This philosopher had four homes around the world! Diogenes made do with a barrel, Wittgenstein with a bedsit furnished mainly with deck chairs.


Quinton taught philosophy at Oxford and is credited with having a rigorous intellect, but he was hardly a Wittgenstein or even an A. J. Ayer. The fact that he was a Tory and the intellectual force behind the political movement that propelled Margaret Thatcher to Downing Street, couldn’t have recommended him to the young who were reading PPE or PPP at his University in the 1980s. In the tributes that followed his death in 2010 friends and colleagues praised his bonhomie. Much of his clubbable personality came across when he presented the popular and long-running radio series ‘ Round Britain Quiz ‘, a truly challenging quiz show in which a  panel of high powered intellects ( as opposed to some of the nitwits that perform on ‘Celebrity Mastermind’ ) try to make connections between seemingly unrelated people, concepts and texts. Luckily, despite the general ‘dumbing down’ of broadcasting, the show has survived and, thank goodness, remains as challenging as ever it was.


Not surprisingly, the guest list for the Quinton’s party reflects Tony’s innate conservatism and perhaps that of his wife, although Jot 101 has no knowledge of her political allegiance. Bankers and investors, most of them pretty old, loom large in the list. Leon Levy (1925 – 2003) was a mutual fund manager ( is this a different name for a hedge fund manager ?). His exact contemporary, Daniel Davison (1925 – 2010) was onetime president of the U. S. Trust. But most notorious of these money men was John Gutfreund (1929 – 2016), CEO of Saloman Brothers, and dubbed ‘ King of Wall Street ‘. Brought down by the bond-rigging scandal of 1991, he and his wife were possibly the models for Leon and Inez Bavarage in Tom Woolf’s Bonfire of the Vanities. Gutfreund was also the star of Michael Lewis’s expose of the money market, Liar’s Poker(1989). Could he also have been the inspiration for Gordon Gecko in the movie ‘Wall Street ‘?



There are big name literary figures—not novelists and poets, you understand, that would be lowering the tone a bit, but movers and shakers, like long-serving NYRB editor Robert Silvers, who was to die in harness in 2017 at the age of 88. Also present was Morton Janklau, primary partner of Janklau and Nesbit, the largest literary agency in the world, whose clients included such literary titans as Barbara Taylor Bradford, Judith Krantz and Danielle Steel. Obviously journalists were invited. Such a party was bound to attract press coverage. Renata Adler, the film critic was one, Tim Metz another. The most glamorous guest, however, was probably Nan Kempner (1930 – 2005), a socialite and ‘international trendsetter ‘,who had been painted by Andy Warhol. The Quintons were patrons of the Arts, particularly of opera, but the only musician on the list appears to have been the young concert pianist Bruce Levington, a leading performer of contemporary classical music.

Philosophers—even those on the right —don’t appear to figure at all on the list. But their absence probably wouldn’t have disappointed Tony Quinton. [R.M.Healey]







One thought on “A Party for Tony and Marcelle Quinton

  1. Jan

    Interesting. I used to see Lord Q in various bookshops including yours. Very pleasant man and and a voluminous book buyer.


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