Who: The former editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Talk, and the author of 2007's The Diana Chronicles, Brown now presides over the website The Daily Beast. She's married to editor Harry Evans.

Backstory: Brown was something of a wild child growing up in Britain: She was kicked out of boarding school on more than one occasion, and made a name for herself at Oxford largely thanks to her talent for bedding men who could help her career, such as Evelyn Waugh's son Auberon and soon-to-be famous novelist Martin Amis. Tina was freelancing for various London newspapers when she snagged her biggest catch, Harry Evans, possibly the most famous newspaper editor in England at the time. By the tender age of 25, the precocious Brown was editing upper-class bible Tatler and living with much-older Evans, who'd left his wife and three kids to be with her.

Brown joined the Condé Nast empire in the early 1980s when Tatler was purchased by Si Newhouse; the magazine mogul lured her to the States shortly thereafter, appointing her Vanity Fair editor in 1984. She stayed at VF for eight years until 1992, when Si reassigned her to The New Yorker, which he'd acquired in 1985 for $168 million but which was still struggling financially. (Graydon Carter took over for Brown at Vanity Fair.) She managed to revitalize the dowdy literary mag, adding more Hollywood glam, rich photography, and a handful of writers who would go on to become literary superstars. Yet critics—and there were many—argued that The New Yorker had become too glossy and lost its literary bearings under Brown. Nevertheless, it's impossible to ignore the profound impact (for better or worse) that she's had on the magazine industry. At both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, she helped create the celebrity-industrial complex that now pervades the magazine industry as a whole. And her legacy lives on thanks to the many careers she nurtured along the way, including those of William Styron, Ken Auletta, Malcolm Gladwell, Jeffrey Toobin, Anthony Lane, Jane Mayer, and current New Yorker editor David Remnick.

In a surprising move, in 1998 Brown departed the safe confines of Condé Nast to launch Talk, with backing from Hearst and Harvey and Bob Weinstein of Miramax. Despite much hype, a famously star-studded launch party on Liberty Island, and $52 million in financing, the mag's prospects withered after Sept. 11th and ultimately folded in 2002. She's since described it as her "big mistake."

Of note: Since the demise of Talk, Brown has kept plenty busy. Early on, there was a short-lived talk show (Topic A on CNBC) and columns for Salon and the London Times. In 2007, Brown published a buzzy book about Princess Di, The Diana Chronicles. Timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Diana's death, the book received generally tepid reviews from critics, but a press blitzkrieg ensured that Brown and her book were the subject of endless chatter among media types, and the inevitable comparisons between the two ambitious, blonde, British women (who bear a striking resemblance to each other) certainly didn't hinder publicity.

In 2008, Brown landed a $1 million advance from Doubleday to write a book about the Clintons. But her primary focus these days is The Daily Beast, the website she founded in 2008 with backing from billionaire media mogul Barry Diller. Although the site has been a consistent money-loser since its debut, Brown has broken a number of big stories and recruited a series of high-profile writers to the Daily Beast's ranks since its founding, and the site now boasts a decent-sized readership. The site may get bigger in the near future: In recent weeks, there have been rumors that Brown has been in talks to combine The Daily Beast with Newsweek's website.

Drama: Given her legendary eye for a good, salacious story, it's no surprise that Brown has been the subject of plenty of sordid stories herself, and inspired a good deal of enmity over the years. Once described by novelist Jamaica Kincaid as "a tyrant" and "Joseph Stalin in high heels with blonde hair from England," even her own husband once commended her "rat-like cunning." The choicest bits of tawdry gossip about Brown can be found in Judy Bachrach's 2001 tell-all, Tina and Harry Come to America: Tina Brown, Harry Evans, and the Uses of Power. The book details many of Tina's youthful flings (like Dudley Moore), her apparently sexless marriage with Evans ("Clinton-like"), and her relentless climb to the top of the New York social ladder.

Personal: Brown married Evans—who is 25 years her senior—in 1981 in East Hampton. They have two kids, George and Isabel ("Izzy"), and live in a four-bedroom apartment on East 57th Street with an outdoor garden, library, six baths, and three maids' rooms. (The home cost $4 million; Condé Nast helped out with the purchase when she was at The New Yorker.) Brown and Evans also have a beach house in Quogue.

Vital Stats

Birth Name: Christina Hambley Brown
Date of Birth: 11/21/1953
Place of Birth: Maidenhead, England
Undergrad: Oxford University
Residence(s): New York, NY (Midtown); Quogue, NY
Filed Under: Media

[Image via Getty]