peterwatsonPeter Watson was educated at the universities of Durham, London and Rome, and was awarded scholarships in Italy and the United States.

After a stint as Deputy Editor of New Society magazine, he was for four years part of the Sunday Times ‘Insight’ team of investigative journalists. He wrote the daily Diary column of the London Times before becoming that paper’s New York correspondent. He returned to London to write a column about the art world for the Observer and then at The Sunday Times.

He has published three exposes in the world of art and antiquities and from 1997 to 2007 was a Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge. He has published twelve books of non-fiction and seven novels, some under the pen name of Mackenzie Ford. He lives in London where his interests include theatre, opera and fishing.

Awards, Etc.

Psychology Prize
Durham University, 1961

Italian Government Music Scholarship
Rome University, 1965

United States Government Bursary “for future world leaders”
To study the psychiatric profession and its links to the administration of justice

Books of the Year

  • Psychology Today Magazine, 1978, for War on the Mind
  • Daily Mail, 1990, for Wisdom and Strength
  • Independent on Sunday, for A Terrible Beauty, 2000
  • Times Literary Supplement, for Ideas, 2005
  • Time Magazine, for The Medici Conspiracy, 2006

Queen’s Pardon
Copy from Patrick Meehan after I had written a series of articles which brought about his release from prison after he had been wrongly convicted of murder, 1976.

Gold Dagger – Crime Writers’ Association of Great Britain
For The Caravaggio Conspiracy, 1983

Beacon Award – SAFE Award – Saving Antiquities for Everyone
For The Medici Conspiracy, 2006

US Library Association
The Great Divide.

Emmy Nomination
‘The Caravaggio Conspiracy, 1984.

Best sellers

  • The Caravaggio Conspiracy
  • Crusade
  • Landscape of Lies
  • Sotheby’s: The Inside Story
  • Nureyev


Peter Watson has lectured at the following venues:


  • Cambridge
  • Berkeley
  • London
  • UCLA
  • Birmingham
  • Georgia
  • Georgia
  • Chicago
  • Birmingham
  • Santiago de Chile
  • York
  • Madrid
  • Harvard
  • Tufts

Military Bases

  • Fort Bragg

Private Institutions in

  • Cleveland
  • Berlin
  • Chicago
  • Belfast
  • Los Angeles
  • New York
  • Washington
  • Boston
  • Palm Beach

Other venues

  • Smithsonian Institution
  • National Museum, Copenhagen
  • Royal Society of Arts
  • Rugby School
  • Royal Library, Copenhagen


  • Edinburgh
  • Oxford
  • Dartington
  • York

5 commments on “Biography”

  • Calvin TANG says:

    Dear Mr Watson
    May I ask if you had made reference to Mortimer Adler’s ideas and his edited works on classics , who was editor in chief of britannica , from Chicago university ? Yesterday I surfed your ambition-driven and inspiration-oriented book: ideas : a history of thought & invention .

    Question 2: how do you compile such works ? How do you define thoughts and select inventions to include in the books?

    Question 3: how long you spent writing both volume ?
    Have you been to Hong Kong? It will be my honour if you visit Hong Kong and I can treat you a coffee …

    Yours sincerely
    Tang Chi Keung ( Calvin)

  • Fiona Johnston says:

    I am currently reading The Medici Conspiracy which I find fascinating. Certainly make the seeds of a good crime novel which I would like to write which is why I am doing a course with FLearn. I love a good conspiracy story

  • Linda van Niekerk says:

    I am reading Nureyev – Beautifully written, and so well researched. An absolute pleasure to read. Thank you.
    Linda van Niekerk, South Africa

  • Kimberly Salisbury says:

    Dear Peter:
    Am relishing reading “Ideas.”
    I’ve done my own research over 20 years ago, a very simple, thorough collection of words, all beginning with the speech sound of (general) K-vowel-N. It is clear that words can be treated as artifacts (much like the “fossil ideas” you mention). I finished the world’s store of KVN words after 3 years. Got just under 7,000 words and complete definitions. The KVN morpheme was used, and flourished in use, at earliest fire-making events.

    Two more discoveries:

    Chanting accompanied fire-making at its earliest stages.

    All 7000 words, with half a dozen exceptions, fall into just 208 discrete concepts.

    Please advise me who I can interest in this. This kind of work takes a broad general scientific education, experience in making scientific keys, plus several courses in literature to have confidence in appreciating and evaluating meanings of words.

    Kindest wishes,
    Kim Salisbury
    PO Box 304
    Bodfish CA 93205 USA

  • Kimberly Salisbury says:

    Dear Peter Watson,

    Please forgive an addition. I’ve just learned the criticisms of “Mass Comparison” and wish to comment. My collection of nearly 7,000 KVN words (above) is representative of all KVN words in the world in that no other concepts now carried by the KVN root sound can be found, other than the ones I’ve sorted them into. Of course, different sorting are possible, but will not differ fundamentally from mine. The significance of this should not escape any serious, well-educated paleontologist.

    Further evidence can be seen in that the three possible proto-consonants are each integrally linked with a vitally essential rhythmic manual motion: KVN with to-and-fro motion, proto-PVN with pecking on stone, and proto-TVN with strong blows, arm or leg. These associations can be clearly seen to one who has adequately immersed themselves in the study.

    Words are as objectifiable, if not moreso, than any solid object in one’s vicinity. A whole culture agrees as to its attributes. A culture does not lose a concept; it remains time-durable; it cannot be un-thought.

    Greatly appreciate your work.

    Bodfish CA

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