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... Dear Kingsley, Many thanks for your letter. Far from resenting it, I appreciate very deeply the friendship that it implies. Of course the problem of writing for the Sunday Pic has exercised my mind. But I ask myself: ought I to be content with teaching ten or fifteen undergraduates in Magdalen, or even with writing for the fairly limited readers of the New Statesman and the Manchester Guardian? If Phil gives me the chance of addressing five million people, ought I to take fright at the shade of Joad and turn it down? It is a difficult job that takes me a long time to learn; and I daresay I shall make lots of mistakes before I get better ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: A New Carl, 5 September 1985

... I can claim to have made some remote contribution. And this is a new grandson. There he is: Carl Taylor, as flourishing as can be. I have other grandsons, a whole host of them. But none of them is called after one of the statesmen of modern times. I must confess that I have got nearly to overlooking Karl Marx as worthy of admiration. But of course he is. In ...

Tribute to Trevor-Roper

A.J.P. Taylor, 5 November 1981

History and Imagination: Essays in honour of H.R. Trevor-Roper 
edited by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Valerie Pearl and Blair Worden.
Duckworth, 386 pp., £25, October 1981, 9780715615706
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... The festschrift, a collection of essays in honour of a senior professor, used to be dismissed as a rather tiresome German habit. Now, I think, it has become embedded in English academic procedure. A festschrift is a gratifying compilation to receive and sets an interesting task for the contributor. But it is the most difficult type of book to review ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Habits, 1 March 1984

... I buy coffee about once a month. This involves an elaborate pilgrimage. First I take a bus almost to Piccadilly Circus, a pilgrimage in itself. Then I find my way by back streets to the head of Old Compton Street, pausing at an excellent fishmonger who has the best kippers in London. My objective is I. Camisa, the best Italian grocer in the area. The history of this goes back a long way ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: What on earth should I talk about? , 4 March 1982

... At first sight, 1982 is not a promising year for anniversaries. Almost the only one is just approaching. The Home Office and the Foreign Office were both founded in 1782 – products of a short-lived Whig ministry. This earth-shaking event is to be celebrated by a series of lectures for each Office. I was invited to give a lecture and was then struck off when I revealed that I do not lecture from a script ...

What one clerk said to another

A.J.P. Taylor, 18 February 1982

Britain and the Cold War 1941-1947 
by Victor Rothwell.
Cape, 551 pp., £16, January 1982, 0 224 01478 1
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... Maybe there was once a time when the British Foreign Secretary, occasionally assisted by the staff of the Foreign Office, conducted British foreign policy single-handed. This was by no means the case during the Second World War or even after it. Winston Churchill, when Prime Minister, ran foreign policy with only expostulations here and there from the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, and Eden certainly did not take much notice of the Foreign Office when making his interventions ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Standing Up, 23 May 1985

... One of my many accomplishments is to lecture without notes and standing up. I began this practice when I was an Assistant Lecturer at Manchester University some half a century ago. I reflected that both I and my audience would find my lectures unendurably tedious if I had read them half a dozen times already. I also felt that it was more courteous to stand up when giving a lecture, rather than to sit at a table reading a text written out beforehand ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Save the Round Reading-Room! , 20 February 1986

... The late Professor Tate of Manchester University, I have been told, made his last ascent of Scafell pike at the age of 93. I made my last ascent of Pillar at the age of little more than seventy. I used to go abroad at least once a year and often twice. Now I have put all that behind me and have been content for a long time with Yarmouth mill in the Isle of Wight ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: One of Two Versions, 2 August 1984

... It is some time since I wrote a diary here. It will be seen I have had plenty to write about. I should explain that there are two versions of a period of my life. One is the version of other people, a version which others try to impose upon me. The other is my own version, a version equally genuine and much more unusual. According to others such as my doctors and the members of my family, I had a mental breakdown, was the victim of fantasies and never moved from the hospital bedroom except to have a bath and did not read even the newspaper ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Living with Prime Ministers, 2 December 1982

... I wearied of board games. Monopoly has always seemed to me a social catastrophe. A year ago Brian Taylor, my first cousin once removed, invented a game called Kensington which was beyond me, though I hope it rewarded him. Now I am offered a book of Sandhurst Wargames,* which extends from the Middle Ages to the Second World War. These are games I shall never ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Personal and Public Affairs, 4 November 1982

... In the days of my youth I kept a diary – not occasional reflections set down at the instruction of an editor but systematic jottings recording the events of each day. The diary became a slavery. Not a day passed without my sitting down to write in it. I imposed events on myself so that I should have something to write about. Passages were inserted in order to please or sometimes to offend my friends and relations ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Preposterous Arrangements, 18 August 1983

... I spent almost forty years of my life in Oxford. Seven years ago on my retirement I left Oxford and have hardly ever been there since. Much has changed. Dinner at Magdalen College now has only three courses, an economy which we resisted even during the Second World War. And of course there are girls everywhere. Last time I dined in Magdalen I sat next to a young lady who presented herself to me as a Fellow of the College ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: The Mosleys and Other Affairs, 17 November 1983

... My dear friend Gerald, Lord Berners, died in 1950. I thought that not more than half a dozen people remembered him. But the centenary of his birth has brought him back into attention. There have been concerts of his music, performances of his ballets and an exhibition devoted to his life on the fifth floor of the Festival Hall. His two best books have been reprinted in paperback: First Childhood, the first part of his autobiography, and Far from the Madding War, the best novel written about the Second World War, at any rate in Oxford ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Books are getting too long, 1 December 1983

... Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, is doing well in his publicity at present, and well he deserves it. There is a fascinating exhibition devoted to him, a sort of glorified guide to the exhibition by Hermione Hobhouse, and a first-class biography by Robert Rhodes James.* Albert took a long time to receive his deserts. Indeed I doubt whether he was fully appreciated during his lifetime ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: From Nuclear Bombs to Samuel Johnson, 18 November 1982

... The public opinion polls telling us which political party will win the next general election are rarely right and I don’t much care whether they are right or wrong. The census every ten years of film critics naming the world’s ten best films is a different matter and stirs my zest for controversy. The most recent list has just been published and I am glad to report that it contains no film less than 19 years old ...

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