Personal History’

In response to:

Uncle Harry's Socks from the October 13, 1983 issue

To the Editors:

I gather that A.J.P. Taylor was very hurt by the review I wrote of his Personal History, claiming that it contained “offensive remarks that were untrue,” in particular that he sent his six children to public schools and that he kept a large car at Oxford while an undergraduate. I am informed that, although today Rover cars are all large, there were small Rover cars in the 1920s. As to the schools, what I wrote was that he “sent his children to public schools”—number unspecified. Careful rereading of his text reveals that he sent his eldest and second sons to Westminster School and Magdalen College School respectively. Both are members of the Headmaster’s Conference, which is how the category of “public school” is strictly defined.

Because of the pleasure Mr. Taylor has always taken in incongruities and contradictions, and because of the frankness with which he revealed those which have occurred in his own life, I thought my review was conceived in the same spirit as his autobiography was written. I am genuinely sorry that I have caused him hurt because, as I so strongly emphasized, his extraordinary achievements and qualities—all highlighted in the review—are admired as much by me as by any of his army of other followers. I still find it inexplicable that so well-traveled a man should not have visited the United States.

John Keegan

Camberley, Surrey