The Gentle Giant

Jan. 16 2002 4:33 PM

The Gentle Giant

Michael Young is remembered by his son.

(Continued from Page 1)

Michael's insatiable appetite for good works came from a feeling of civic duty. His parents were rather rackety bohemians, but at the age of 15 he was sent to Dartington Hall School, where he was more or less adopted by the school's founders, Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst. Dorothy was an immensely rich American heiress, having originally been a Whitney, and she imparted to Michael her acute sense of noblesse oblige. For the next few years he spent his summers in America with the Elmhirsts, at one point even dining with Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House. It was in such an atmosphere that his own political philosophy was born, a combination of utopian socialism and aristocratic paternalism.


A few years ago, my father wrote a magazine piece in which he recalled his meeting with Roosevelt. As soon as he got a full blast of the President's personality, his sheer life force, he realised he didn't have the joie de vivre to go into politics. Michael was immensely public-spirited, yet he didn't enjoy public occasions. This, too, was behind his long list of achievements. He knew he could never be a great public figure so he chose to make his presence felt in other ways. It was in his office, working away on an endless succession of projects, that Michael grew to his full stature.

A version of this article first appeared in the Observer last year.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.