Apostles of Empire find romance… pity about the wife and kids…

This is too delicious to miss:

The internationally celebrated historian and TV presenter Niall Ferguson has broken up with his wife of 16 years after a string of adulterous affairs.

The 45-year-old Harvard professor has left former newspaper editor Susan Douglas, with whom he has three children, for his mistress, the Somalian-born feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

At which point Ms Douglas may be thinking hard thoughts about the nature of sisterhood.

Professor Ferguson, whose books, television programmes and work with financial hedge funds earn an estimated £5million a year, is understood to have been in a relationship with Ms Hirsi Ali since last summer.

Today, The Mail on Sunday can reveal how Ferguson’s philandering behaviour – described by one confidante as ‘more akin to a Premiership footballer’s louche ways than an esteemed professor’s’ – wrecked his marriage to Ms Douglas, one of Tory leader David Cameron’s closest friends, a leading member of the Tory ‘A-list’ of potential parliamentary candidates and a former Fleet Street editor.

Will Dave include this in his list of examples of Broken Britain? Or why it’s necessary to bolster the institution of marriage? I doubt it.

The British historian Sir Alistair Horne, with whom he is currently writing the authorised biography of Henry Kissinger, is said to know about the affair, as does Mr Kissinger. However a spokesman for the statesman declined to comment yesterday.

‘It’s rather awkward because both Sue and Niall know Henry and his wife Nancy, neither of whom can understand why Niall has been bringing women other than his wife to private dinners,’ said a source.

Allowing Kissinger the moral high ground would be quite a feat…

He is seen as a contentious figure in literary circles, prompting one rival historian to declare: ‘He has the kind of face you want to punch.’

Indeed so. Which is why this has me roaring my leg off. Get the whole story in your super soaraway Mail.


  1. weserei said,

    February 7, 2010 at 1:46 am

    What kind of life has this “confidante” led, that adultery and divorce are considered extraordinary behavior for a professor? Where I’m from, it’s considered normal, to the point of being a stereotype.

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      February 7, 2010 at 1:55 am

      Evidently, Prof Ferguson has taken The History Man as a model of academic behaviour.

  2. ejh said,

    February 7, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Who was the rival historian?

    The best that can be said of Ferguson is that unlike Andrew Roberts, he is actually a proper historian, peer-reviewed work and all.

  3. BenSix said,

    February 7, 2010 at 11:47 am

    The pair are understood to have met at Time magazine’s prestigious 100 Most Influential People In The World party in New York last May…

    The scent of power wafted through the air, as Niall Ferguson, the Harvard Professor, locked eyes with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the modern-day symbol of the enlightenment.

    “But we can’t, Niall. Not here. What if Henry sees?”

    “Oh, sod Henry,” gasped Ferguson, “The red mist usually descends on his vision around this time, anyhow.”

    “But what about David? How will he take it?”

    “For you, my darling, a Labour re-election…”

  4. Mike Macnair said,

    February 7, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    On # 1 – nothing new: Auden: “To the man in the street, who I’m sorry to say, / is a keen observer of life, / the word intellectual suggests straight away/ a man who’s untrue to his wife”

  5. Dr Paul said,

    February 7, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Not every philandering academic has had it all his own way. I know of a case — I’ll not be so distasteful as to mention his name or the institution where he worked — who got off with one of his young female students, only to be walloped heavily if not fatally on the head with a sharp implement by his wife when he arrived home.

    As for Ferguson and Ali, I’m reminded of that tale, possibly apochryphal, perhaps not, of Lenin’s comments about Kollontai and her latest boy-friend, that they should be sentenced to spend the rest of their lives together.

  6. Lobby Ludd said,

    February 7, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    ‘He has the kind of face you want to punch.’

    I think someone has – he looks like my mate did when he had his jaws wired together (because of a broken jaw, rather than to shut him up, although the latter was generally considered the greater good).

  7. johng said,

    February 8, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    I have to admit this is really too good to miss. Incredible. Like some kind of old spitting image satire. but real.

  8. Dr. X said,

    February 9, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I wish I knew where all this academic adultery/shagging at conferences thing comes from, ’cause I’m not getting my fair share, I’ll tell you that for nothing.

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