Stiff Upper Lip

secrets, crimes and the schooling of a ruling class

A brilliant book – Evening Standard

Renton mixes memoir and anecdote with deeply researched history… this is a brave and necessary book – Sam Leith The Guardian

Quite breathtaking… Required reading – James O’Brien LBC

A thoughtful and sensitive indictment of one of the cornerstones of the British establishment – Andrew Anthony The Observer

Impassioned, candid and thoroughly researched… Gripping – Rupert Christiansen, Sunday Telegraph 

Gruelling and gripping – William Moore Evening Standard

[It] kept me absolutely enthralled… Even if you never went near a public school, the book is a phenomenal read: it kept me up all night – George Hook Newstalk Ireland 

Renton has the thirst for truth, and for exposing depravity, of a Gitta Sereny – Ysenda Maxtone Graham The Times

At last, a scrupulously honest insight into private boarding education in Britain – ranging from the abuse to which it subjects the child, and the family, to the abuse of Britain’s social order in laying the foundation to buying your child’s way to the top – Jon Snow of Channel 4 News

[A] masterful expose of private school perversion – Sam Kiley Sky News

Published in the UK by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, April 6th 2017

This is the story of generations of parents, Britain’s richest and grandest, who believed that being miserable at school was necessary to make a good and successful citizen. Childish suffering was a price they accepted for the preservation of their class, and their entitlement. The children who were moulded by this misery and abuse went on – as they still do – to run Britain’s public institutions and private companies.

Confronting the truth of his own schooldays and the crimes he witnessed, Alex Renton has revealed a much bigger story. It is of a profound malaise in the British elite, shown up by tolerance of the abuse of its own children that amounts to collusion. This culture and its traditions, and the hypocrisy, cronyism and conspiracy that underpin them, are key to any explanation of the scandals over sexual abuse, violence and cover-up in child care institutions that are now shocking the nation.

Complicity in child abuse is the bleak secret at the heart of today’s British elite.


Alex Renton

Alex Renton is a writer and journalist whose career has ranged from arts and food writing to politics and the investigation of child abuse. His career as a war reporter and development worker took him to the Middle East, Africa, East Asia and the Balkans. He has worked for The Independent, The Times, Newsweek, and the London Evening Standard and contributed to a host of other newspapers and magazines. He is also the author of the e-book Planet Carnivore: how cheap meat costs the earth (Guardian Shorts, 2015).

Alex has won many awards for his work in investigative journalism, conflict and development reporting and for food writing, including the One World Award and the Glenfiddich Trophy.

Born in Canada, educated in English boarding schools and at Exeter University, Alex now lives in Edinburgh with his wife, son and daughter. He likes to cook weird stuff.

You can contact Alex here

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