Category Archives: politics

‘The Tribunal’

Councillor Hopwood (to a conscientious objector at Shaw Tribunal, asking for exemption): I think you are exploiting God to save your own skin. It is nothing but deliberate and rank blasphemy. A man who would not help to defend his country and womankind is a coward and a cad. You are nothing but a shivering […]

A. A. Milne’s ‘The Boy Comes Home’

There’s a silver lining Through the dark clouds shining, Turn the dark cloud inside out ‘Til the boys come home. Thanks to Simon Thomas for pointing me in the direction of A. A. Milne’s 1918 one-act play The Boy Comes Home (included in First Plays, online at Project Gutenberg). At the Victoria Palace in September, […]

We’ve paid for the War! (well, sort of)

The chancellor announced yesterday that, after a century, the Treasury is about to repay all the nation’s First World War debt. The outstanding £1.9 billion of debt from 3½% War Loan bonds will be repaid next year. George Osborne said:This is a moment for Britain to be proud of. We can, at last, pay off […]

Welsh newspapers

Here’s a very useful resource that I hadn’t come across before. It’s an archive of Welsh newspapers published between 1804 and 1919, which has recently been enlarged by the addition of 27 new publications. I’ve taken a look through some papers of the War years, to see indications of feelings of dissent. I put the […]

Henry Williamson, revisions and Hitler

Realising that the book I’m reading at the moment (Henry Williamson’s The Sun on the Sand, of 1945) re-hashed some of the material included in The Pathway of 1931, I decided to take another look at that book, of which my memory was rather vague. I was surprised by what I found. This time I […]

Allan M. Laing and Bertrand Russell

I’ve blogged before about Allan M. Laing, the author of Carols of a Convict who in the 1930s and 1940s would become the monarch of the New Statesman literary competitions. Cyril Pearce (author of the excellent Comrades in Conscience) has very kindly helped me by sharing the information about Laing in his database of conscientious […]

But it’s just a children’s book…

A couple of correspondents recently have criticised me for taking Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful seriously. ‘It’s just a children’s book,’ they argue. ‘So you can’t expect literary sophistication or historical accuracy.’ Others have taken a similar line about Carol Ann Duffy’s Christmas Truce poem, whose target market is also apparently children (though there was no […]

Beerbohm’s ‘T. Fenning Dodworth’

Tidying one’s books always takes longer than planned. Today, as I shifted volumes  from one shelf to another, in the hope of making a little more room, I found a book that I had not looked at for years. Like so many others of my disparate collection, it had got itself into the wrong section. […]

Election fever

The current election is suspenseful without being especially interesting. Past ones were often more dramatic. A Group at Sheffield University (The Social and Spatial Inequalities Group) have produced an animated map that should interest anyone with a taste for political history. It shows very clearly the voting patterns in all constituencies in elections between 1832 […]

Poetry, War and more at the Oxford Literary Festival

‘Doing anything nice this afternoon, then?’ asked the chirpy waitress at Fire and Stone as she waited for her little machine to approve my credit card. ‘Yes, we’re going to the Oxford Literary Festival.’ ‘The what?’ ‘The Oxford Literary Festival.’ ‘Well,’ she said sardonically, ‘expressing all the amusement that the young often feel for the […]