Katharine Elizabeth Whitehorn CBE (born 1928) is a British journalist, writer, and columnist who is known for her wit and humour and as a keen observer of the changing role of women.
Born in Hendon, she was educated at the private Roedean School in Brighton, Glasgow High School for Girls (closed in the 1970s), and Newnham College, Cambridge.
She was a sub-editor for a women's magazine in 1956, when Picture Post photographer Bert Hardy asked her to model for him. She caught a big break, then, when he photographed her for a story on loneliness in London, and one Hardy photo of her sitting by a fire with a cigarette, as if thinking to write an article instead of being lonely, became an advertisement for the energy drink Lucozade. She wrote for Picture Post just before it closed and then worked as a columnist for The Observer in London from 1960 until 1996. As of January 2013, her weekly column continues to appear in the The Observer magazine. A 1963 article on sluts, in the sense of 'slovenly women', and identifying herself with the term, created a minor sensation:
Have you ever taken anything out of the dirty-clothes basket because it had become, relatively, the cleaner thing? Changed stockings in a taxi? Could you try on clothes in any shop, any time, without worrying about your underclothes? How many things are in the wrong room—cups in the study, boots in the kitchen?
She also served as the Rector of the University of St Andrews from 1982 to 1985. Since 1997, she has written a monthly column for Saga Magazine.
Whitehorn was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to journalism.
In 2009, she began presenting the short philosophical Friday evening programme on Radio 4 entitled A Point of View.
She married the novelist Gavin Lyall in 1958 in Marlborough, a marriage that lasted until his death in 2003. They had two sons.
- Her book Cooking in a Bedsitter (originally Kitchen in the corner: A complete guide to bedsitter cookery), first published in 1961 and a classic of its kind, remained in print for thirty-five years.
- Selective Memory by Katharine Whitehorn, 2007, published by Little Brown