Madeleine Bunting

Madeleine Clare J. Bunting (born March 1964) is an English writer. She was formerly an associate editor and columnist at The Guardian newspaper. She has written five works of non-fiction and two novels (Ceremony of Innocence will be published in 2022).[1] She is a regular broadcaster for the BBC. Her most recent series of essays for BBC Radio 3 was on the idea of Home, and broadcast in March 2020. Previous series of essays include 'Are You Paying Attention?' (2018) 'The Crisis of Care' (2016) and 'The Retreating Roar' (2014) on the loss of faith.

Life and career

Early life and education

Bunting was born Clare Bunting in Oswaldkirk, North Yorkshire, the daughter of Romola Jane (Farquharson) and sculptor John Bunting, who taught drawing at the Catholic independent school Ampleforth College.[2] Her ancestry is English, Irish, Scottish, and, through her maternal grandmother, Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jewish.[3] The fourth of five children, Madeleine was the youngest daughter from John and Romola's marriage; the couple separated in 1978.[4] She was educated at Richmond Convent, North Yorkshire, and Brighton, Hove & Sussex VI Form College, followed by Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and then Harvard University, where Bunting read history, and received a Knox postgraduate fellowship to study politics and to teach.


After a period working for Brook Productions (1988–89) Bunting joined The Guardian newspaper in 1990.[5] Her posts at the newspaper over the years were as a news reporter, leader writer, religious affairs editor, associate editor and, for twelve years a columnist.

Bunting was appointed director of the London-based think tank Demos in June 2006 but resigned shortly after, owing to differences with the trustees.

Bunting returned to The Guardian and wrote a history of an area where she grew up.[6] Bunting left The Guardian in 2013.[5]


The Model Occupation

Her first book The Model Occupation: The Channel Islands under German Rule, published in 1995, was praised as "thoroughly unflinching, fair-minded, humane and sensitive" (Paul Johnson, Evening Standard). Another review by the historian Norman Stone said, "Bunting is a superb chronicler of what happened.. if you want a classic example of the dilemmas of Resistance, here it is." Yet the book was also highly controversial[7] in that the author accused the islanders of passive collaboration with German occupying forces, implying that officials "helped identify Jews" for deportation to their deaths, which constituted a "shameful wartime past". Historian Hazel R. Knowles Smith has described Bunting’s research as “just plain wrong,”[8][9] while X writes that it is “impossible to overstate” the outrage caused by Bunting’s allegations.[10]

Bunting repeated these claims in an article for the Guardian in January 2004 when the book was republished, stating, "My book The Model Occupation played a modest part in the process, stirring up furious controversy on the islands.”

The Plot

The Plot was published by Granta in 2009. The book traces how humans have used one acre of land on the edge of the North York moors over thousands of years right up to the present day including her own family's use of the land. It is partly an account of the War Memorial Chapel her father built on the acre as well as a history of an area of great natural beauty and rich history.[11][12] It was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize 2010 and won the Portico Prize.

Other Books

In 2004, she published Willing Slaves, an analysis of the role of overwork in British culture.

In 2016 she published Love Of Country: A Hebridean Journey, published in 2016, concerning the relationship between England and Scotland through the prism of a series of journeys through the Hebrides. It was the Radio Four Book of the Week and was widely praised in reviews including in The New Statesman, The Scotsman and The Guardian.[13][14] It was also shortlisted for the Golden Beer Wainwright Prize and The Saltire Society Prize.

In April 2019 she published her first novel, Island Song, which won the Waverton Good Read Award for a debut novel. In October 2020 she published Labours of Love, The Crisis of Care.


As a columnist Bunting wrote on a wide range of subjects from religion to politics, social change and global development. She was well known for opposition to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, she played a key role in drawing new voices into the media from the British Muslim community and won a Commission for Racial Equality award for her work in this area. She won several One World media awards for her work on global inequality and development. She was also known for her advocacy of religious belief from a liberal position and her rejection of atheism; she argues that new atheists' antipathy to religion makes it impossible for them to criticise it effectively.[15] She was awarded a Lambeth degree by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2006 in recognition of her journalism. In 2013, she received an honorary fellowship from Cardiff University.

As a columnist, Bunting was critical of abuse committed within the Catholic Church in Ireland[16] and elsewhere in the world. She believes the moral authority of the Roman Catholic Church is irreversibly compromised.[17]

Personal life

Bunting is married to Simon Robey and has three children. She was formerly married to Patrick Wintour of The Guardian.[18]


  • The Model Occupation: The Channel Islands Under German Rule, 1940-45, HarperCollins (1995) ISBN 0-00-255242-6 (reprint (2004) Pimlico, ISBN 1-84413-086-X)
  • Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives, HarperCollins (2004) ISBN 978-0-00-716372-4
  • The Plot: A Biography of an English Acre, Granta Books (2009) ISBN 978-1-84708-085-1
  • Love Of Country: A Hebridean Journey, Granta (2016) ISBN 978-1847085177
  • Island Song, Granta (2019) ISBN 9781783784615
  • Labours of Love, The Crisis of Care ISBN 9781783783793


  1. ^ "Home".
  2. ^ Cocker, Mark (31 October 2009). "The Plot: A Biography of an English Acre by Madeleine Bunting". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  3. ^ Bunting, Madeleine (11 April 2017). Love of Country: A Journey Through the Hebrides. ISBN 9780226471563.
  4. ^ "Obituaries: Ampleforth Journal". John Bunting website. 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Madeleine Bunting". Granta. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  6. ^ Stephen Brook "Bunting returns to the Guardian", The Guardian website, 19 October 2006. Retrieved on 9 May 2007.
  7. ^ Holt, Linda (25 May 1995). "Our Dear Channel Islands". London Review of Books. Vol. 17, no. 10. ISSN 0260-9592. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  8. ^ Smith, Hazel R. Knowles (2007). The changing face of the Channel Islands occupation : record, memory and myth. Basingstoke [England]: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-62759-8. OCLC 314774204.
  9. ^ Morvan, Chris (11 February 2007). "Making it right". Guernsey Press. Retrieved 6 July 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Carr, Gilly (18 April 2019). Victims of Nazi Persecution in the Channel Islands: A Legitimate Heritage?. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 155. ISBN 978-1-4742-4569-2.
  11. ^ Bunting, Madeleine (10 October 2009). "Land of my father". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  12. ^ Kellaway, Kate (18 October 2009). "The Plot by Madeleine Bunting". The Observer. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  13. ^ Kelly, Stuart (3 November 2016). "Book review: Love of Country, by Madeleine Bunting". The Scotsman. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  14. ^ Liptrot, Amy (23 November 2016). "Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey review – the edge of Europe". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  15. ^ Madeleine Bunting "The New Atheists loathe religion far too much to plausibly challenge it", The Guardian, 7 May 2007. Retrieved on 9 May 2007.
  16. ^ An abuse too far by the Catholic church
  17. ^ An inquiry is vital, but the church's moral authority is lost for ever
  18. ^ Oppenheimer, Jerry (2005). "Front Row: Anna Wintour: The Cool Life and Hot Times of Vogue's Editor in Chief". New York City: St Martin's Press. p. 346. ISBN 9781429907637.

External links

  • Comment is Free articles
Retrieved from ""