250th letter in The Times - and a record

Alistair Lexden’s letter in The Times on October 30 (see below) was his 250th in what is generally regarded as the most famous letters page in the world. The milestone was noted in light-heated vein in TMS, The Times diary column, on October 31, under the heading “Too Many Cookes?” The piece ran as follows:

A small moment of Times history happened yesterday with the publication of the 250th letter written by the historian Lord Lexden. I hasten to add, lest other readers suggest favouritism, that he has submitted many, many, more than that. His epistolary career started 25 years ago when, as an unnobilitated Tory policy wonk, he was asked by John Major’s political secretary to write a letter to The Thunderer opposing the Maastricht rebels’ demands for a referendum on being in the EU. How times have changed. His elevation to the Lords in 2010 did not give him greater authority in the eyes of some readers. A year later, one of you noted that Lord Lexden’s letters were “almost routinely the subject of dispute”, adding “I did not notice this happening when he was just plain Mr Cooke”.

A senior Times journalist with long experience of the letters page is in no doubt that Alistair Lexden has had more letters published in the paper than anyone else in its history.