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Erratic Star

Michael Foot, 11 May 1995

Moral Desperado: A Life of Thomas Carlyle 
by Simon Heffer.
Orion, 420 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 297 81564 4
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... Toryism, old or new, whereas something deep in Carlyle’s has been potent enough to persuade Simon Heffer to follow in the footsteps of his Peter-house mentor, Maurice Cowling, and see whether Carlyle can be given the final accolade. It seems a pretty tall order, even though, as every schoolchild knows (as Macaulay used to say), Carlyle became in ...

A prince, too, can do his bit

K.D. Reynolds: King Edward VII and George VI, 27 April 2000

Power and Place: The Political Consequences of King Edward VII 
by Simon Heffer.
Weidenfeld, 342 pp., £20, August 1998, 9780297842200
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A Spirit Undaunted: The Political Role of George VI 
by Robert Rhodes James.
Little, Brown, 368 pp., £22.50, November 1998, 0 316 64765 9
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... that the monarchy is, and has been for more than a century, politically impotent and irrelevant. Simon Heffer and the late Robert Rhodes James have thought differently, and rightly so. Recent indignation over the ‘co-option’ of royal events by Tony Blair highlights the uses to which politicians can put the monarchy; it is hard to see why Prime ...

What’s the big idea?

Jonathan Parry: The Origins of Our Decline, 30 November 2017

The Age of Decadence: Britain 1880 to 1914 
by Simon Heffer.
Random House, 912 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 84794 742 0
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... Simon Heffer​ has had an idea. He has had them before, but he has fattened this one up into a book of enormous proportions. Huge quantities of factual narrative have been injected into it, in the hope of beguiling reviewers into acknowledging its historical respectability. For all that, the underlying argument is simple – the title gives it away ...


Ian Buruma, 13 May 1993

Gower: The Autobiography 
by David Gower and Martin Johnson.
Collins Willow, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 00 218413 3
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... Australians, and Gooch will escort him off the field, brawny arm wrapped around delicate shoulder. Simon Heffer, in the Evening Standard, wrote a more ill-tempered piece, in which he deplored the fact that Mr M. Atherton (Manchester Grammar and Cambridge) was frozen out of Gooch, G.’s secondary-modern circle. The likes of Gooch – the dependable ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Boycotting Bristol, 20 March 2003

... side, with or without a degree to show for it (and a very nice time most of them had of it, too). Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail took up his predictable cudgel on behalf of the beleaguered privileged classes. The head of the university funding council, however, has said that Bristol’s admissions policy is ‘fair and equitable’, and even Charles ...

Not Even a Might-Have Been

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Chips’s Adventures, 19 January 2023

Henry ‘Chips’ Channon: The Diaries 1918-38 
edited by Simon Heffer.
Hutchinson, 1024 pp., £35, March 2021, 978 1 78633 181 6
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Henry ‘Chips’ Channon: The Diaries 1938-43 
edited by Simon Heffer.
Hutchinson, 1120 pp., £35, September 2021, 978 1 78633 182 3
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Henry ‘Chips’ Channon: The Diaries 1943-57 
edited by Simon Heffer.
Hutchinson, 1168 pp., £35, September 2022, 978 1 5291 5172 5
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... the encouragement of his children, three formidable volumes have appeared, admirably edited by Simon Heffer, with profuse footnotes displaying considerable scholarship and intermittent pedantry.As Heffer says, Channon was seen as ‘trivial, snobbish, shallow and profoundly lacking in judgment’, a toady to the ...

Black Electricities

John Sutherland, 30 October 1997

The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle. Vol. XXV: January-December 1850 
edited by Clyde de L. Ryals and K.J. Fielding.
Duke, 364 pp., £52, September 1997, 0 8223 1986 1
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by Thomas Carlyle, edited by K.J. Fielding and Ian Campbell.
Oxford, 481 pp., £7.99, September 1997, 0 19 281748 5
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... Carlyle’s reputation was sunk long before the Nazis took him along to their Götterdämmerung. Simon Heffer gives a useful account of the ‘long and damaging fall from the pedestal’ in the first chapter of his 1995 Life of Carlyle. The extent of that fall can also be gauged in the acres of cheap Victorian editions still to be found in secondhand ...

Wedded to the Absolute

Ferdinand Mount: Enoch Powell, 26 September 2019

Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain 
by Paul Corthorn.
Oxford, 233 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 0 19 874714 7
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... A miasma of doubt hung over the tale for another forty years until smart detective work by Simon Burgess for a Radio 4 documentary revealed that the widow did exist and that one of her friends had written to Powell about her. Her name was Drucilla Cotterill, and she had been teased by the Jamaican children whose families had moved into the ...

Dazed and Confused

Paul Laity: Are the English human?, 28 November 2002

Patriots: National Identity in Britain 1940-2000 
by Richard Weight.
Macmillan, 866 pp., £25, May 2002, 0 333 73462 9
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Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom 
by Tom Nairn.
Verso, 176 pp., £13, September 2002, 1 85984 657 2
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Identity of England 
by Robert Colls.
Oxford, 422 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 19 924519 3
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Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, October 2002, 1 85619 716 6
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... conditions – conditions which have now disappeared. We have had the woe-is-England vapourings of Simon Heffer and the rushed observations of Andrew Marr. An academic industry has flourished. Now both Weight and Robert Colls have written requiems for the old Britishness which are also ruminations on a new, more democratic England. Britannia, for so long ...

Sagest of Usurpers

Ian Gilmour: Cromwell since Cromwell, 21 March 2002

Roundhead Reputations: The English Civil Wars and the Passions of Posterity 
by Blair Worden.
Allen Lane, 387 pp., £20, November 2001, 9780713996036
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... also disliked ‘the babble of toleration’. Carlyle was writing what his most recent biographer, Simon Heffer, called an allegory of England. Much of that allegory would not have been wholly congenial to most of his readers, who did not regard parliaments or toleration as mere ‘babblements’. Cromwell’s relative religious toleration ...

Now to Stride into the Sunlight

Ian Jack: The Brexiters, 15 June 2017

What Next: How to Get the Best from Brexit 
by Daniel Hannan.
Head of Zeus, 298 pp., £9.99, November 2016, 978 1 78669 193 4
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The Bad Boys of Brexit: Tales of Mischief, Mayhem & Guerrilla Warfare in the EU Referendum Campaign 
by Arron Banks.
Biteback, 354 pp., £9.99, June 2017, 978 1 78590 205 5
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All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class 
by Tim Shipman.
William Collins, 688 pp., £9.99, June 2017, 978 0 00 821517 0
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... helpful to Leave.EU were each sent a Fortnum’s hamper for Christmas. He names the names: Simon Heffer of the Daily Mail, Andrew Pierce of the Daily Mail, Christopher Hope at the Daily Telegraph and Caroline Wheeler at the Sunday Express. He even quotes Heffer’s thank-you note: he found the hamper at home ...


Frank Field: Reading Kilroy-Silk’s Diary, 6 November 1986

... about the operations of Militant in Merseyside. In his new book on Labour’s future Eric Heffer misses the significance of these operations.2 Merseyside has appalling problems, and Eric summarises admirably the extent of the deprivation, and the extent to which the current government’s policies have compounded an already near-intolerable ...

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