One of Harry Evans’ presents as a journalist was his understanding of energy: who had it, why they received it, and — most importantly — how they misused it.
His profession as maybe the United Kingdom’s most achieved newspaper editor took off in the sixties, when, as the editor of Darlington Echo, he helped flip the wrongful conviction of a person hanged for homicide right into a campaign that culminated in the finish of the dying penalty. As the editor of the Sunday Times in the seventies, he compelled a world reckoning with Big Pharma, taking up drugmakers who performed down the substantial well being dangers of the tranquilizer thalidomide.
But at the Sutton Place ground-floor duplex house he shared along with his spouse Tina Brown from the fizzy late nineties until the considerably extra chastened late ’10s Mr. Evans, who died final Wednesday at the age of 92, turned a premier salonist of a typically post-salon period, internet hosting authors, media personalities, politicians and dignitaries, the extra highly effective the higher.
There was normally a visitor of honor and most of the time, the peg (because it’s known as in journalism) was a ebook, like Simon Schama and “The Story of the Jews,” revealed in 2014. Or a victory, like the Labour candidate Tony Blair’s election to prime minister in 1997.
The morning of a celebration, Mr. Evans and Ms. Brown would head to the Sutton Cafe, on First Avenue, the place they’d eat breakfast, and examine fourteen newspapers.
Then, they’d come residence and Mr. Evans would play Ping-Pong earlier than leaping into the tub, the place he’d spend a couple of hours studying the ebook being celebrated and put together his toast. She labored on the seating preparations.
In the afternoon, a shifting truck would arrive and extract the furnishings from the widespread areas of the house.
Around 6 p.m., friends have been greeted in the foyer by younger girls with clipboards checking off their names. In the lobby have been glasses of champagne. Presuming the climate obliged, the bulk of the friends walked out into the backyard. One may see Gayle King mingling with Barry Diller. Or a downtown nightlife fixture flashing a bunch of Secret Service guys accompanying Al Gore.
Mr. Evans, a five-foot-seven cannonball of vitality whose fits have been as dapper as his hair was messy, appeared to drift above the crowd, sprinkling buoyancy, and too quick to catch.
The recipients of his mischievous, alliterative toasts have been normally on the mates listing, but it surely mentioned one thing about the energy he and Ms. Brown wielded in New York that many of these in attendance have been individuals who had been scorched in publications she presided over (most notably Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and The Daily Beast) or in books he edited at Random House (which he headed from 1990 to 1997).
In 1996, Mr. Evans revealed “Primary Colors,” the best-selling roman à clef that turned out to be by Joe Klein, a few southern governor working for president, bulldozing everybody in his wake. Yet there was Bill Clinton some years later, standing in the backyard with Mr. Evans and Ms. Brown on behalf of their mutual buddy Sidney Blumenthal.
And there at one other get together was Roger Ailes, regaling friends about his accomplishments at Fox News, regardless of the incontrovertible fact that Mr. Evans in 1983 wrote “Good Times, Bad Times,” an account of being defenestrated at The Times of London after it was taken over by Rupert Murdoch.
In 2004, Mr. Evans was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his companies to journalism. Yet his greatest pet peeve, in line with his good buddy, the author Marie Brenner, was the “snobby class society of England. Many of his most hilarious toasts were about that.”
Preet Bharara, the former U.S. lawyer for the Southern District of New York, turned pleasant with Mr. Evans and Ms. Brown in 2017, shortly after he was fired by the Trump administration. Upon the publication of his book, a not-quite-a-memoir called “Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law,” released in 2019, the couple hosted a party for him at the apartment.
The book, Mr. Bharara said in an interview, touched on high-profile cases involving “insider trading and public corruption,” but Mr. Evans chose in his toast to focus on a chapter involving “the least famous case, this woman who’d lost $11,000 and been brutally beaten. It had never been in the newspaper but it was about someone powerless getting their case in court.”
Mr. Evans did not have to be an expert on a subject to monopolize the microphone.
Occasionally, Ms. Brown held a party for someone whose career had nothing to do with Mr. Evans’ main interests.
But he never did. The relationship between him and Ms. Brown was too symbiotic for that. One of her gifts was making the fun stuff serious, turning pop culture into sociology. One of his was making the serious stuff fun.
So at parties for fashion designers and Hollywood actresses, he would manage during the toasts he wasn’t delivering to do what Ms. Doppelt described as a “little heckling.”
It wasn’t meanspirited. In fact, Mr. Evans had an enthusiasm for his wife’s career big enough to rival Martin Ginsburg, the highly successful tax lawyer who, as Linda Greenhouse wrote in a recent obituary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, became his wife’s chief booster, “happily giving up his lucrative New York law practice to move with her to Washington,” and lobbying “vigorously behind the scenes for her appointment to the Supreme Court.”
“He was thrilled for her success and more than that, he got off on her brain,” said the writer Holly Peterson, speaking of Mr. Evans and Ms. Brown. “It was an intellectual mind meld.”
And there were other similarities between the Evans-Browns and the Ginsburgs.
Ms. Ginsburg, according to Ms. Greenhouse, was “reserved” and had a pronounced ability to “unnerve” people, both because she was a powerful woman and because she also could be in spite of this shy and anxious. That is also true of Ms. Brown.
Mr. Ginsburg was an “ebullient raconteur, quick with a joke of which he himself was often the butt.” Likewise, Mr. Evans.
Two years ago, Mr. Evans turned ninety and Ms. Brown threw him a birthday party at Clivedon House in the National Gardens. There, she gave a toast of her own, talking about how, after his pre-party baths, she would find the books “discarded and very damp, with strips of sponge to mark pages.”
The longest bath he ever took, she said, was before moderating a panel with three Proust historians at a monthly literary breakfast he started while at Random House.
“When I asked him through the door the last time he had read Proust he replied, ‘Never,’” Ms. Brown said. “‘But by the time I get out I think I’ll have the gist of it.’”