A. J. P. Taylor: Radical Historian of Europe by C. J. Wrigley

By C. J. Wrigley

A student gentleman within the old-fashioned; a northern non-conforming radical; an educational steeped in Oxford traditions; a late-20th century media character; the most awesome historians of his age: A.J.P. Taylor was once some of these issues. He wrote approximately conventional historic topics in a standard demeanour and took narrative background to new heights and was once both at domestic with a severe educational, as with an unlimited renowned, viewers. C.J. Wrigley's new biographical research contains interesting and hitherto unknown information of Taylor's privileged and cosseted adolescence, the influence of his shut yet combative and stimulating family members, the dissenting and nonconformist culture, and his time as a instructor, broadcaster journalist and historian.

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The young Taylor wore advanced political opinions like a badge on his clothes. He made no secret of the unorthodox views which were rampant at his home. 24 It is notable that the ‘Chronicle of Bedroom 24’, Penn House, Bootham, early on became the ‘Soviet Chronicles’, beginning: On Friday the Soviet G [government] was established in No. 24, its object being to establish liberty and independence [sic] for shirkers. The other members, who live across the ocean, opposed its opinions and declared war.

This was notably so with the titles of book reviews or essays, such as ‘Mr High Mind’s Party’ or ‘Recalling Mr Fearful – for Truth’. He may well have been encouraged in this by Malcolm Muggeridge dubbing Ramsay MacDonald ‘Mr High Mind’ in his The Thirties (1940), a book which much influenced him. 54 He liked to quote Macaulay: ‘Homer is not more decidedly the first of heroic poets, Shakespeare is not more decidedly the first of dramatists, Demosthenes is not more decidedly the first of orators, than Boswell is the first of biographers.

He held the seat comfortably in 1935 and 1938, remaining a councillor until his death. 32 30 A . J . P. TAY L O R Connie Taylor was also involved in politics, supporting Henry Sara in his communist propaganda. Taylor recalled, My mother, I think, still hankered to play a great revolutionary role. She made large financial contributions to the Communist Party, as the records of Special Branch probably show. But it was not her own money. It was relayed to her from a Soviet bank in London and she passed it on to the Communist Party, thus, it was hoped, concealing the source… However, she did finance Sara for a very long time.

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