My Mentor: Toby Young on Julie Burchill - Media - News - The Independent

My Mentor: Toby Young on Julie Burchill

'The thing I admire most is that she's completely fearless'

She was offered a Time Out column but wasn't that keen, so we worked out a deal where I would write the column, but she would put her name to it and we'd split the cash. As I started out literally impersonating her voice and passing myself off as her, to continue to write in that style seemed like the most natural thing to do.

She certainly taught me some extremely useful lessons. The thing I admire most about her journalism still is that she's completely fearless. I think that many journalists starting out imagine that if you antagonise anyone, particularly if they're rich and powerful, you're going to have a very short career. Julie demonstrated to me that actually the opposite is the case, that the more fearless, the more outspoken you are, the further you'll go.

In 1991 Julie and I and her husband Cosmo founded The Modern Review, produced out of my bedsit in Shepherd's Bush. We fell out in 1995 and I closed the magazine down without telling her. The catalyst was when she left Cosmo for Charlotte Raven and there was a kind of failed putsch in which Julie tried to overthrow me and install Charlotte in my place. We've been on quite friendly terms since 2001 and then met again this year.

Ultimately the reason we fell out is because our relationship began as a kind of mentor-apprentice, and that was a kind of relationship which Julie was comfortable with. It was only when I succeeded in getting out from under her shadow that our relationship deteriorated. She's more used to having acolytes than she is having friends she treats as equals.

The most valuable lesson that she taught me was that you don't have to be a careerist to have a career in journalism.

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