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Into Apathy

Neil McKendrick

21 August 1980
The Wedgwood​ Circle, 1730-1897 
by Barbara Wedgwood and Hensleigh Wedgwood.
Studio Vista, 386 pp., £9.95, May 1980, 0 289 70892 3
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... the Stracheys are most strongly the children of their fathers, not their mothers … it does not matter whom they marry, the type continues and has been much the same for three hundred years.’ The Wedgwood Circle might be expected to provide equal cause for genetic self-satisfaction on the Wedgwoods’ part. For the Wedgwood story is inevitably the story of the Darwin family, so often did they marry ...
8 December 1994
Years of Hope: Diaries, Papers and Letters, 1940-62 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 442 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 09 178534 0
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... he was dictating into a tape-recorder when most of his contemporaries were still writing in longhand, often in lockable, leather-bound volumes. He generated even more words than Dick Cross-man and Barbara Castle, so many that the work of selection and editorship has been too much for him to attempt alone. He has therefore always relied on an academic editor. Unlike Addison, he has not apparently ...

Associated Prigs

R.W. Johnson: Eleanor Rathbone

8 July 2004
Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience 
by Susan Pedersen.
Yale, 469 pp., £25, March 2004, 0 300 10245 3
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... an Independent, both on Liverpool City Council and in Parliament, she holds no place in the party pantheons. Yet she was a far greater figure than Ellen Wilkinson, Nancy Astor, Margaret Bondfield or Barbara Castle. Her neglect shows how important it is to have members of your party or faction evoking your name as part of their tradition. Perhaps the greatest recent example of what this can do for ...

Mount Amery

Paul Addison

20 November 1980
The Leo Amery Diaries 
edited by John Barnes and David Nicholson, introduced by Julian Amery.
Hutchinson, 653 pp., £27.50, October 1980, 0 09 131910 2
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... Harold Nicolson and Chips Channon wrote splendid diaries because they were not so much politicians as sublime social columnists who happened to sit in the House of Commons. Richard Crossman and Barbara Castle were heavyweights and professionals, and the eternal grind of committee life is reflected in their accounts. Yet both were writing with the special excitement of socialist voyeurs. Determined ...
24 November 1988
Office without Power: Diaries 1968-72 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 562 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 09 173647 1
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... a dedication to worker rights and social justice. ‘You might be interested to see,’ he records saying to a Shadow Cabinet meeting on 31 July 1971, ‘the address on which my father’ – William Wedgwood Benn, a Liberal, then Labour MP, created Viscount Stansgate in 1941 – ‘fought the election in 1906: cheap food, reform and prosperity for the Port of London, freedom for the trade unions and ...
24 September 1992
Tony Benn 
by Jad Adams.
Macmillan, 576 pp., £20, July 1992, 0 333 52558 2
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The End of an Era: Diaries, 1980-1990 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 704 pp., £25, September 1992, 0 09 174857 7
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... politics, surely marked out for the leadership from an early stage. He was born with every advantage. Good-looking and good-natured, eloquent and earnest, well-educated and well-connected, Anthony Wedgwood Benn had the best of both worlds. Father was a radical Liberal MP who switched to Labour in the Twenties and ended up representing the Party in the House of Lords as the first Viscount Stansgate. The ...

Strenuously Modern

Rosemary Hill: At Home with the Stracheys

3 March 2005
Bombay to Bloomsbury: A Biography of the Strachey Family 
by Barbara​ Caine.
Oxford, 488 pp., £25, February 2005, 0 19 925034 0
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... prosaic race, lacking magnanimity, shorn of atmosphere’. The direct line has died out now. The family’s tremendous flowering left its legacy in books and institutions rather than in living heirs. Barbara Caine is considering a completed episode, a story that ended in the last century. It is possible to see in it something of what both the Woolfs meant, but from this distance perhaps the most striking ...
25 October 1990
Crossman: The Pursuit of Power 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 361 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 02592 9
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... Newspapers, after one more sporting try at a piece on the Ministry of Technology. (Ah! The DEA! The Ministry of Technology! The tantrums of George Brown! Later that same day, Crossman dined with ‘Wedgwood Benn’ to discuss the menace of Radio Caroline. There is a decomposing madeleine wedged between every leaf of these diaries, which I have just reread.) In his lenient and chivalrous biography of ...
18 August 1983
The History Men: The Historical Profession in England since the Renaissance 
by John Kenyon.
Weidenfeld, 322 pp., £16.50, March 1983, 0 297 78081 6
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... since we have not really been prepared for it), denounces ‘the sheer feebleness of so much popular history and historical biography since the death of Trevelyan’ (he means Churchill, C.V. Wedgwood, the Pakenhams and Barbara Tuchman). And in this mood he goes on to identify the leading issue facing the historical profession today as ‘the real divide’ which ‘is still between the popular ...

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