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Francis James Baird Wheen (born 22 January 1957) is a British journalist, writer and broadcaster.
Wheen is the author of several books, including a biography of Karl Marx which won the Deutscher Memorial Prize in 1999, and has been translated into twenty languages. He followed this with a notional "biography" of Das Kapital, which follows the creation and publication of the first volume of Marx's major work as well as other incomplete volumes. Wheen had a column in The Guardian for several years. He writes for Private Eye and is currently the magazine's deputy editor. His collected journalism, Hoo-hahs and Passing Frenzies, won him the Orwell Prize in 2003. He has also been a regular columnist for the London Evening Standard.
In April 2012, Wheen suffered the loss of his entire book collection, his "life's work", and an unfinished novel, in a garden shed fire.
Wheen was opposed to the Falklands War. In an article syndicated
to a number of American newspapers, Wheen stated: "In a famous British play of the 1950s, Look Back in Anger, the hero complained that 'there aren't any good, brave causes to fight for anymore'. Mrs Thatcher apparently agrees with this view, so she went to war over a small, ignoble cause." Wheen is a supporter of the anti-monarchist group Republic.
Wheen supported NATO's Kosovo intervention in 1999, signed the Euston Manifesto for a realignment of progressive politics and supported the second Iraq War.
Wheen was married to the writer Joan Smith between 1985 and 1993. He has been the partner of Julia Jones (formerly Julia Thorogood) since the mid-1990s; they have two sons.
In 2014, Wheen waived his right to anonymity in order to speak about being a victim of teacher Charles Napier, after Napier was convicted of sexually abusing 23 boys between 1967 and 1983. Wheen described his experience as less serious than that of other victims, and had only become aware of the scale of Napier's activities later.
^Brockes, Emma. "The Greatest Intellectual?", The Guardian, 31 October 2005; the article has since been withdrawn from the Guardians website, but it remains available at chomsky.infoArchived 3 January 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
^The Guardian referred the matter to an external ombudsman, who detailed his reasons for rejecting the three men's argument that the correction was itself wrong. See John Willis "External ombudsman report", The Guardian, 25 May 2006