Sayre, Nora.

Alternative names
Birth 1932-09-20
Death 2001-08-08

Biographical notes:

Nora Sayre (1932-2001) was a journalist, author, and critic whose work focused on American culture, politics and society during the Cold War era.

Her parents, Joel G. Sayre and Gertrude Lynahan Sayre, were professional writers whose circle of friends included Edmund Wilson and Walker Evans. Sayre worked as a journalist in Paris and London for several years following graduation from Radcliffe College. She wrote articles and reviews for many publications, including New Statesman and The New Yorker, and was film critic for The New York Times, 1973-1975. Her books include Previous Convictions: A Journey through the 1950s; Running Time: Films of the Cold War; Sixties Going on Seventies; and On the Wing: a Young American Abroad, recalling her youth and life in London during the 1950s. Sayre lectured widely and taught courses on non-fiction writing.

From the description of Nora Sayre papers, 1940-2001. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 79394030

Nora Sayre (1932-2001), journalist, author and film critic, was born in Hamilton, Bermuda, on September 20, 1932. Her father, Joel G. Sayre (1900-1979), was a reporter, Hollywood screenwriter, and author. During World War II. he was foreign correspondent for The New Yorker attached to the Persian Gulf Command. Her mother, Gertrude Lynahan Sayre, was an editor and reporter.

Born into a literary family, Nora became acquainted during her youth with many literary figures who were friends or associates of her parents, including John O'Hara, James Thurber, Edmund Wilson, and the photographer, Walker Evans. After graduating from Radcliffe, she went to Europe hoping to find work as writer or journalist. Unable to find work in Paris, she settled in London, where she became a writer on the staff of the New Statesman reviewing French and American books. During her London years she also contributed short pieces to the Manchester Guardian and the Twentieth Century (a London magazine). Through Edmund Wilson she had been introduced to Arthur Koestler, who helped her to get settled; and through Koestler and his wife, the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, she was introduced to the social life of the London literati.

Upon her return to New York she continued to write for the New Statesman as its first American correspondent (1964-1970) covering various social and political issues including mayoral politics, the antiwar movement, and the New York theatre. She also contributed numerous articles to The New York Times Book Review, the Nation, Esquire and other magazines. From 1973 to 1975 she was film critic for The New York Times. She published three books of social and cultural criticism of America during the post W.W. II. period: Sixties Going on Seventies (1973); Running Time: Films of the Cold War (1982); and Previous Convictions: A Journey through the 1950's (1995). Her last book, On the Wing: A Young American Abroad (2001) contained her reminiscences of her childhood and youth and her life in London during the 1950's.

In addition to her literary work Ms Sayre taught courses on nonfiction writing and journalism in the Writing Program at Columbia University. She also lectured widely and gave workshops at various colleges and universities. At the time of her death she was planning a book on "American obsessions" based upon her observations of American political conventions. Her marriage in1957 to a British diplomat, Robert R. Neild, ended in divorce. She died in New York on August 8, 2001.

From the guide to the Nora Sayre papers, 1940-2001, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)


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Ark ID:


  • Film criticism--United States
  • United States--Civilization--1945-
  • Cold war in motion pictures
  • Political conventions
  • Authors, American
  • Political conventions--United States
  • Authors, American--Political and social views
  • Authors, American--France--Paris
  • Authors, American--England--London
  • Cold war in literature
  • Anti-communist movements--History--20th century
  • Anti-communist movements--United States--History--20th century
  • Books--Reviews
  • Film criticism


  • Photographers
  • Authors--United States
  • Critics--United States
  • Journalists--United States


  • United States (as recorded)
  • France--Paris (as recorded)
  • England--London (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)