Diaries and Letters of Robert Bernays, 1932-1939. An Insider's Account of the House of Commons
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Bernays was elected to the House of Commons in 1931, at the age of 29. This archive material consists of weekly letters and diary entries. These provide unvarnished portraits of the 'big guns' of the government and social milieu: Ramsey MacDonald (whom he called a 'nincompoop'), Baldwin, Anthony Eden, Hoare, Churchill, Chamberlain. He covers the Abdication crisis in full, and strain of the coming war and Chamberlain's policy of appeasing Hitler. Just about every leading personality and issue of the day is discussed. The personal side is also included. His social life included frequent visits at Lady Astor's Cliveden, and he knew Bernard Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Noel Coward, Diana Cooper, Lord Halifax, etc. He was a frequent guest of the society hostesses Sybil Colefax, Lady Londonderry, and Lady Cunard. There is an 'I am a camera' feel to the material. His abilities as witness and observer give the material its edge and make it an invaluable source of information for scholars and political historians.
". . . a vivid account of a young MP's trials and tribulations (both political and personal) during the years of the National governments. . . . his observations of the behaviour and actions of the leading politicians and personalities of the era make this a valuable historical document for the social and political historian. What is more, these diaries present a perspective on events through very rare eyes for the time - a liberal politician. . . . these diaries make compelling reading. The mix of politics, love, theatre and gossip means they will appeal to both the general reader and the student of British politics. It thoroughly deserves its place on the bookshelf alongside the diaries of Leo Amery, Harold Nicolson, 'Chips' Channon and Cuthbert Headlam." - N. J. Crowson in Contemporary British History
"The editor's introduction is lucid and analytical, with many apt turns of phrase. Dr. Smart achieves a remarkably rounded and perceptive portrait of his subject. . . . Historians of inter-war politics are doubly indebted to Dr. Smart: firstly for unearthing this new source, and secondly for making it available in this excellent edition. . . . the book is handsomely produced and its contents are fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable reading." - Stuart Ball in Parliamentary History
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