Wednesday, March 13, 2019

An historical tidbit: Agatha Christie on Brexit?

I don't generally comment on politics here, and for the most part this post won't either. Largely, this is because the situation in the U.S. and the U.K. is so depressing that I can barely do more than glance at the headlines each morning and then spend the rest of the day pretending that none of it is really happening. This blog often functions as part of that pretense.

However, I recently came across a tidbit with a direct connection to the blog and felt I had to share it. I decided not long ago to splurge and go whole hog into a full membership at Ancestry and even the supplemental "Publisher Extra" edition of This is handier than I can say both for continuing to research my genealogy and for research of authors on my list. Someday a fully revised main list, with improved details on many, many authors, will appear (heaven knows when), but that's neither here nor there for this post.

What I came across (in a search for newspaper articles about Doris Langley Moore) was a striking artifact from the last Brexit referendum. Now, even as a total Anglophile, this idiot American had no idea there had been a referendum back in 1975 on whether to leave what was then called the European Community. (I was seven years old at the time and not following the news as closely as I should have.) And obviously I didn't read all the background articles about the current Brexit balls-up because, well, see first paragraph above. But if I had I would have come across this Guardian article from 2016 which discusses the 1975 debate and which might help those of you who are similarly oblivious to this earlier upheaval.

What I came across was this paid advertisement headed "Writers for Europe" in which dozens and dozens of well-known authors, including many from my list, urged the public to vote to remain in Europe:

The photo itself is quite large, though you'll have to blow it up or save it and open the saved version in order to see it clearly.

Keeping Agatha Christie company in the 1975 version of the Remain campaign were women writers including the afore-mentioned Doris Langley Moore, Pamela Hansford Johnson, Ursula Bloom, Margaret Drabble, Rosamond Lehmann, Rumer Godden, Elspeth Huxley, Jean Rhys, Jean Plaidy, Naomi Mitchison, Antonia Fraser, Anna Freud, Kay Dick, Angela du Maurier, Sybille Bedford, Caryl Brahms, and Lynn Reid Banks. They were supported by many other highly recognizable male authors.

Many things have changed since 1975, of course, so one can't be certain how these authors would have voted in 2016 (though however they voted, they'd probably be alarmed by the way it's playing out). But I found it rather interesting to think about.


  1. This is fabulous Scott! Its all so depressing reading the news lately but encouraging to see some of my favourite writers on this list. As always - love your posts.

  2. Only once have I ever read anything political in your blog, Scott (the morning after the 2016 election, and in fact, that was how I found out, as I had been avoiding the news) and THAT was more than understandable. This, however, is so neat - I love little bits of historical trivia that so neatly dovetails. Thanks for sharing!

  3. In 1975 we were actually being asked if we wanted to join - at the time the situation was rather fluid, and we didn't properly belong to what was then called the Common Market. I voted to join, as did a lot of people I know - or knew then! - (I also voted to remain, so it isn't ALL the old people who wanted to leave!)
    But to return to the point, we were told by all sorts of people how much better it would be to have a close economic relationship with the rest of Europe, but the way it was done in the end meant that a lot of older ties, like imports from our fellow members of the British Commonwealth - the former colonies - were cut, which caused a great deal of upset and bad feeling. Nothing is ever straightforward, is it, in individual or in large-scale relationships? And the current crop of politicians, most of whom in this country have no experience of life outside the political circles of Westminster, don't seem to be any better, or to have much common sense. (Although the vast business experience of your president doesn't seem to save him from a similar lack thereof.) I don't often discuss politics 'in public' either, so I'll shut up now, and return to being a grumpy old woman (70 next month!) and leave you all in peace...

  4. What's this, Scott. You have time for geneology too? When do you sleep? Or earn a living?

  5. As Abbeybufo says Scott, the 1975 referendum was for a free trade agreement with Europe, which most people wanted. Since then, UK governments have signed up for closer and closer links with the EU, which give away national sovereignty to create a European superstate controlled from Brussels, all without asking the electorate if they wanted this. This was causing such political disquiet that the referendum was held, and the fact that the result shocked politicians shows how out of touch most of them are. It is rather as if Mr Trump signed up to create an American superstate with South America, controlled from say, Rio de Janerio, all without asking the USA electorate if this is what they wanted.


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