Wednesday, December 30, 2015

12 times JK Rowling has inspired Harry Potter fans

JK Rowling

She may be one of the most successful authors in the world, but the notoriously private JK Rowling also manages to find time to share her innermost thoughts with Harry Potter fans. When she does, it doesn't take long before the internet finds out, and thousands of people benefit from the Harry Potter author's wisdom.
Here are some of the occasions Rowling proved as wise as her creation Professor Dumbledore:

1. 'Rowling loves black Hermione'

The casting of Swaziland-born actress Noma Dumezweni as the adult Hermione in forthcoming West End play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was seen as a triumph by many fans, who called it "beautiful" and a dream come true. 
As some fans had pointed out throughout the publication of the books, Hermione was never assigned a race by Rowling. All we knew of her was that she had bushy hair and large front teeth. When Rowling, who was involved with the casting of The Cursed Child, confirmed this, it confirmed what many had hoped was true for years.

2. 'The world is full of wonderful things'

When Rowling was asked by a fan who had lost hope, she didn't just reply once...

And with it, inspired hundreds of other people to give hope to Twitter user Brocaesar at the same time.

3.  'I know what it is like to be picked on' 

When Sacia Flowers was 16, she summoned the courage to write to her favourite author. Harry Potter had given her strength: like him, Sacia's drug addict parents were murdered when she was very young and she was bullied at school. As Washington newspaper the Herald wrote in 2010, "Both dreamed that they'd wake up one day and realize their misfortune was all a mistake."

Letter from JK Rowling to Sacia Flowers
Rowling replied: "I know what it is like to be picked on, as it happened to me, too, throughout my adolescence. I can only wish that you have the same experience that I did, and become happier and more secure the older you get. Being a teenager can be completely horrible, and many of the most successful people I know felt the same way." 

4. 'She'd be extremely proud' 

After Emma Watson made members of the UN chuckle after interrupting her #HeForShe speech with the disclaimer, "You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing up on stage at the UN. It’s a good question and trust me, I have been asking myself the same thing," Rowling made Hermione's opinion on the whole thing very clear: 

Watson's UN speech also inspired a letter from a 15-year-old boy to The Telegraph, which drew a raft of support on social media.

5. 'Gryffindor for you, my lad...' 

Scottish Super fan Johnnie Blue gave Rowling a beautiful notebook with a heartfelt message inside last summer. A few weeks later she responded. Here's an extract: 
"What you say about Harry helping you at what was clearly a dreadful time in your life means more to me than I can easily express. I freely confess that I loathe bullying and the way it is still so often 'handled' in schools. Your experience is shocking and disturbing and that you have turned out to be a compassionate, moral, highly motivated person is high testimony to your courage. Gryffindor for you, my lad…"
She also added that, as "a connoisseur", his handwriting was "fantastic". 

6. 'Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light' 

15-year-old Cassidy Stay read this line from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at the memorial for her parents and four siblings after they were murdered by a gunman in Texas. 
An online campaign to organise a meeting between Stay and Rowling led to the author writing her a letter, reportedly in the voice of Dumbledore, to whom the quote belongs. Although the contents of the letter remain private, a friend of Stay's said that she received a care package from Rowling which included a wand, an acceptance letter to Hogwarts, a list of school supplies and a signed copy of the book she quoted. 

7. 'You will be determined' 

In 1999, the same year Rowling published her third Harry Potter novel, she found time to respond to a questionnaire written to her shoes by American schoolgirl Emily Waldo. It's more amusing than inspiring, but definitely worth a read. 
Choice quotes include: "I know that her black sandals have met Kirk Douglas's shoes, Donny Osmond's shoes and Rosie O'Donnell's shoes. Naturally, I don't talk to them anymore." Rowling also reveals, via her shoes, that her heroine was "writer and human rights activist Jessica Mitford". 

Shoe Questionnaire: Letter from JK Rowling to Emily Waldo
However, Rowling's boots do offer advice to prospective owners: "You will be determined but also disorganised (a lot of my exercise comes from running back home to fetch things my owner has forgotten.) 

8. 'My truthful answer to you…' 

In 2007, Rowling announced what some fans had always speculated: that Dumbledore was gay. In New York's Carnegie Hall, at a reading of her seventh and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Rowling said something that "elicited a huge reaction and prolonged ovation", according to fansite The Leaky Cauldron. Their transcript of her speech reads like this: 
"My truthful answer to you… I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. [ovation.] …Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him.
"Yeah, that’s how I always saw Dumbledore. In fact, recently I was in a script read through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying I knew a girl once, whose hair… [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, 'Dumbledore’s gay!' [laughter] 'If I’d known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!'"

9. 'But of course' 

Rowling openly supports homosexual fans - and admonishes homophobic ones.
This tweet was in direct response to a fan asking if there were openly LGBT students at Hogwarts. Meanwhile, a "former" fan accused Rowling of "blindsiding" readers with the revelation that Dumbledore was gay, writing "Once u revealed Dumbledore was homosexual I stopped being a fan. Nice how u blindsided us with that one. Enjoy your billion $". The author responded by encouraging him to follow Brian Souter on Twitter instead.
Souter, who founded the Stagecoach bus company, has come under criticism for his allegedly homophobic views. In 2000, he donated £1 million to a campaign that aimed to prevent the Scottish government from repealing the controversial Section 28 law, which prohibited "the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

10. 'The most important thing is to READ as much as you can' 

In 2004, Snitch Seeker forum user Kim Felton posted a letter JK Rowling had sent her, in which she answered a number of questions about the books and their characters. In answer to Felton's question, What advice would you give to young writers? Rowling wrote:
"When writing I think a good starting point is what you know - for instance, your own feelings, or subjects you know a lot about. The most important thing is to READ as much as you can. This will teach you to recognise good writing, and by analysing what you like best, you can find out how to improve your own writing."

11. Writing Natalie McDonald into Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

There is only one character in the Harry Potter books who was named after a real person: Natalie McDonald. Rowling had her sorted into Gryffindor, to the applause of the house ghost Nearly Headless Nick, in The Goblet of Fire after months of correspondence with McDonald's mother Valerie.
Natalie, who was from Toronto, died aged nine after suffering from leukemia. Before she died, a family friend, Annie Kidder, contacted Rowling's publisher to tell the author about Natalie and how much she loved the Harry Potter books. After failing to get hold of the family on the phone, Rowling wrote Natalie an email, but it reached the family a day after she died.

JK Rowling in June 2011
According to Kidder, Rowling's email "didn't patronise Natalie, or tell her everything was OK; she addressed her as a human being who was going through a hard time. She talked about her books and her characters and which ones she liked best."
Rowling and Valerie became friends, eventually meeting. But not before the author included McDonald in her fourth novel, something Valerie only discovered when she read the book.

12. 'My husband looks just like this in a dress'

When Rowling publicly tweeted her support of the tennis player Serena Williams, most people were equally enthusiastic about the sports star. But one Twitter-user, with the handle "@diegtristan8", decided to share his opinion that Williams is “built like a man”. Rowling responded with a picture of the tennis star in a fitted red dress, and the retort: “Yeah, my husband looks just like this in a dress. You're an idiot”. Game set and match to Rowling.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ways With Words 2015: Books, comedy and music

Comedian Dom Joly, poet Simon Armitage and novelists Salley Vickers and Deborah Moggach are among the performers at the 2015 Ways With Words Festival

Dom Joly will be appearing at the 2015 Telegraph Ways With Words Festival
Dom Joly will be appearing at the 2015 Telegraph Ways With Words Festival

Poet Simon Armitage will be talking about his sequel to the bestseller Walking Home, which is called Walking Away and is the story of his travels on England’s south west coast, at the Telegraph Ways With Words literary festival in July.
Ways With Words, which runs from July 3-13 2015, is a joyful festival set around the beautiful medieval courtyard of Dartington Hall in Devon.
In the 10-day event, Salley Vickers will be discussing her new collection of short stories and Deborah Moggach will be talking about her novel, Something to Hide.
Jane Hawking will be telling the inside story of her marriage to the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking, the subject of the recent film The Theory of Everything. The festival will also screen the movie, which earned a best actor Oscar for Eddie Redmayne.
There will be poems and music (mandolin in hand) from the witty John Hegley, and Dom Joly, who shot to fame in 2000 with his anarchic Channel 4 comedy programme Trigger Happy TV will talk about his new memoir Here Comes The Clown.
Among the themes being explored at this year's festival are science of the body; rural writing and matters of the mind. And James Ward will be sharing his witty tales of the weird and wonderful words of stationery.
Other names to look out for this year are Penelope Lively, Alan Johnson, Mary Portas, AC Grayling, Lucy Fry and Raymond Tallis.

Popeye: 10 things you never knew

Popeye first appeared 86 years ago, in a comic strip by the cartoonist Elzie Segar. Here are 10 unexpected facts about everyone's favourite one-eyed sailor

Three views of the famous cartoon character Popeye
Three views of the famous cartoon character Popeye

1. Popeye and Olive Oyl were real people

Well, they were based on real people. When Elzie Segar introduced Popeye in a 1929 comic strip, he drew his inspiration for the sailor from a character from his hometown of Chester, Illinois – a one-eyed man named Frank 'Rocky' Fiegal. Fiegal, who shared Popeye's fondness for fighting and pipe-smoking, was apparently rather flattered by his link to the cartoon: when he died in 1947, his gravestone was inscribed with the words "inspiration for Popeye." Olive Oyl was based on another of Segar's neighbours – a very tall, slim woman named Dora Paskel, who usually wore her hair in a bun.

2. He convinced American kids to eat spinach

As all Popeye fans know, whenever the sailor feels in need of some extra strength, he simply downs a tin of spinach, and instantly sprouts bulging biceps. During the Great Depression, a 33% increase in spinach consumption was widely attributed to the character's popularity and his famous fondness for the green stuff. Rather endearingly, spinach was also listed as the third favourite food of American children at the time (after turkey and icecream). However, the cartoon's link between spinach and rapidly expanding muscles actually had its roots in a scientific mistake: due to a misplaced decimal point in an 1870 medical journal, many people in the Thirties believed spinach held 10 times more iron than it really did.

3. He was the first cartoon character to get his very own statue...

...also thanks to the spinach. A full-colour Popeye statue was erected in Crystal City, Texas, in 1937, to celebrate the boost to the region's spinach-growing industry. Meanwhile, earlier this year, billionaire casino tycoon Steve Wynn paid $28 million for a statue of Popeye by the artist Jeff Koons.

4. He didn't always rely on spinach for a boost

In Segar's very early comics, Popeye gained his superhuman strength by patting the head of a magical creature called a whiffle hen. The whiffle hen – known in the comic strip as Bernice – granted good luck to anyone who rubbed her feathers. In one early storyline, Popeye is shot at a casino (presumably not one of Steve Wynn's), and uses Bernice's powers to regain his health.

5. He was originally just an extra

The very first time Popeye appears, in a 1929 newspaper comic strip called Thimble Theatre, he's a sidekick rather than a star. Popeye creator Elzie Segar's stories originally revolved around the lives of Olive Oyl and her extended family (including a brother known as Castor Oyl). However, when the Popeye character was introduced, he proved so popular, Segar was soon forced to make the strip all about him.

6. He turned the Empire State Building green

In 2004, the Empire State building was illuminated in green (as in, spinach-green) light to celebrate the 75th birthday of the famous cartoon character.

7. The voice of Popeye ended up marrying the voice of Olive Oyl

Popeye was first turned into a series of short animated films in 1933, with the character making his big-screen debut alongside another famous cartoon, Betty Boop. The films usually saw the sailor compete with the villainous Bluto for the affections of Olive Oyl – Popeye's capricious, usually angry, often unfaithful sweetheart (exactly why Olive Oyl inspired such devotion from one man, let alone two, remains a mystery). From 1935 onwards, Popeye was voiced by the actor Jack Mercer, who went on to voice the character for the next 40 years. Between 1938 and 1942, Mercer was also married to Margie Hynes, who provided the voice of Olive Oyl.

8. He gave us the word "wimp"

In the original Popeye comic strips, Segar introduced a cowardly, overweight, hamburger-loving character named J. Wellington Wimpy (reputedly based on one of Segar's former bosses). The character later inspired both the insult "a wimp", and the restaraunt chain, Wimpy's.

9. He has his own theme park

In 1980, Robert Altman released Popeye, a live-action film adaptation of the Popeye cartoons, which starred Robin Williams as the sailor in his first-ever big-screen role. The film was produced in Malta, and, after filming wrapped, the set was turned into a tourist attraction, known as Popeye Village. Visitors to Popeye Village can experience rides, shows, a Popeye museum, and, rather appropriately, a boat trip.

10. The famous Popeye theme tune is based on Gilbert and Sullivan

The Popeye the Sailor Man tune, which accompanied the original cartoons, was composed by the Romanian-born US songwriter, Sammy Lerner. Impressively, it took him less than two hours to devise the song. The melody is loosely based on the opening lines of the "I am a Pirate King" song from Gilbert and Sullivan's 1880 operetta, The Pirates of Penzance.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lucky Alan: and Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem, review: 'subtle'

Elena Seymenliyska enjoys Jonathan Lethem’s teasing stories about calamitous relationships

Jonathan Lethem
Jonathan Lethem

Lucky Alan brings to mind Lucky Jim: like the hero of Kingsley Amis’s comic novel, the character in Jonathan Lethem’s title story considers himself anything but lucky. Alan Zwelish is that toxic combination of masculine pride and intellectual inhibition, bristling at the merest kindness from his elderly Manhattan neighbour Sigismund Blondy, a theatre director.
Blondy himself is not entirely blameless: he derives private satisfaction from this teasing game of friendship, especially as the sincerity of his overtures makes them only more provocative to their young recipient. When Zwelish returns from holiday with an Asian bride in tow, Blondy makes the fatal error of congratulating his friend’s luck. Instead of taking it as the compliment it was meant to be, Zwelish is offended at the perceived mockery, and calls time on the friendship.
Such subtle social shifts and ineffable relationship calamities are a feature of the best stories in this collection by the American author of novels such as Motherless Brooklyn (1999) and The Fortress of Solitude (2003).
In “The Porn Critic”, a nerdy sales assistant at Sex Machines in San Francisco realises too late what his flat looks like to the girl he has taken home. To him, the stacks of porn videos that line his bookshelves and carpet his floor are just the cumbersome detritus of his sideline as editor of the shop’s newsletter. But the girl feels as if she’s sitting inside a copy of Guernica: “It’s like a meat shop – carnage everywhere”; she barely has time to vomit before she escapes.
Two stories exquisitely capture the dissonance that builds between husband and wife. In “The Empty Room”, a couple keep a sort of decompression chamber in their house: when the going is good, it’s a generous place for each to be themselves, away from the demands of family. Yet when the going gets bad, the same room turns mean, becoming an escape hatch just for one.
In “Pending Vegan”, a depressed husband wants to wean himself off his medication. To cope with what’s still an unbearable world, he hits upon a secret escape route: turning vegan. But his determination to stand apart is put to the test by a family trip to SeaWorld, where he watches his wife and twin daughters marvel at the performing beasts.
Not all nine stories are such unqualified hits: a few play with style and form to lesser effect. Only at the end of “The Dreaming Jaw, The Salivating Ear” does it become clear that its segmented paragraphs are a simulation of a blog that ought to be read in reverse chronological order to make narrative sense. And “Their Back Pages” will be inscrutable to most British readers: it took Googling to learn that familiarity with early-20th-century American newspaper comic strips was a necessary prerequisite.
But “Traveler Home” gets the balance right – Lethem uses staccato sentences to tell a hypnotic modern fairy tale about an outsider (the Traveler) in a snowy landscape featuring seven wolves, seven sisters and one abandoned baby: “Snows grows. Snows lose. Missing shoes. Mossy rooted path. Bridge fallen. Asteroid shower. Traveller waking. Double dreaming. Dream shakes off, a second skin, dog’s wet fur. Alarm furious, astounded interval between first waking and five-minute snoozed.”
It’s the sort of word experiment that would appeal to the couple in the preceding story, “The King of Sentences”. Clea and her boyfriend work in a New York bookshop and see themselves as custodians of a rich treasury: “For sentences were sculptural, were we the only ones who understood?” The two are devoted to a reclusive writer they call “the King”, whose books they read aloud to each other, by candlelight, to orgasmic effect.
When they decide to find him and genuflect in person, Clea writes a line from her work in progress (Those Young Rangers Thought Love Was a Scandal Like a Bald White Head) on her stomach, while her boyfriend stuffs pages from his manuscript (I Heard the Laughter of the Sidemen from Behind Their Instruments) down his trousers. Lethem’s own early novels have titles such as Gun, With Occasional Music (1994) and As She Climbed Across the Table (1997). Any author who can tease his young self (like Blondy) deserves more than Zwelish prickliness from us.
Lucky Alan: and Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem
176pp, Jonathan Cape, Telegraph offer price: £14.99 (PLUS £1.99p&p) (RRP £16.99, ebook £6.99). Call 0844 871 1515 or see

Rodgers and Hammerstein biography coming in 2018

The book's release is timed for the 75th anniversary of Richard Rodgers' and Oscar Hammerstein II's first collaboration, Oklahoma!

Richard Rodgers, left, and Oscar Hammerstein in 1956
                                                         Richard Rodgers, left, and Oscar Hammerstein in 1956

The 75th anniversary of Richard Rodgers' and Oscar Hammerstein II's first collaboration, Oklahoma!, is being marked by a new biography of the musical giants.
In two decades of collaboration, Rodgers and Hammerstein worked on such musicals as Carousel, Allegro, South Pacific, Pipe Dream, The King and I and The Sound of Music. Their musicals and films have won dozens of major awards including a Pulitzer Prize; 34 Tonys, 15 Oscars and two Grammys.
The biography, written by Todd S Purdum with the co-operation of the late Broadway team's publishing arm, will come out in 2018, 75 years after Oklahoma! opened at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven in March 1943. Purdum is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and a senior writer at Politico.
Henry Holt and Company announced that the book, Rodgers and Hammerstein, will also draw on materials recently made available at the Library of Congress. Recent findings include draft versions of musicals, including South Pacific. It was discovered that the song Getting to Know You, which appears in The King and I, first originated as an unused song for South Pacific when it was called Suddenly Lucky and Suddenly Lovely. The pair decided that their song Younger than Springtime was more romantic, and opted to use that instead for South Pacific.
Hammerstein died in 1960 and Rodgers in 1979. The pair are still regarded as the greatest musical writing partnership of the 20th century.
Ashley Day as Curly in Oklahoma! at the Royal and Derngate Theatre, Northampton, in 2015 PAMELA RAITH

Saturday, June 27, 2015

JK Rowling reveals new Dursley writing on Pottermore

On Dudley's birthday, Rowling reveals the story behind Vernon and Petunia's names, and a disastrous first meeting with the Potters

Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley, Harry Melling as Dudley and Fiona Shaw as Aunt Petunia
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley, Harry Melling as Dudley and Fiona Shaw as Aunt Petunia 

To mark what would be the 35th birthday of Harry's deeply unpleasant cousin, Dudley Dursley, JK Rowling has released some new writing on her Pottermore fan website concerning his parents.
Readers who visit The Cupboard Under The Stairs extract and turn their attention to the table outside it will be rewarded by unlocking the backstory of Vernon and Petunia Dursley.
"'Vernon' is simply a name I never much cared for," she writes. "'Petunia' is the name that I always gave unpleasant female characters in games of make believe I played with my sister Di."
The extract describes a disastrous first meeting between Harry's parents, Lily and James, and the Dursleys, during which Uncle Vernon patronises James, who in turn is amused by his future brother-in-law.
Mr Dursley loudly supposes that wizards must live on unemployment benefit, storming out when James attempts to explain the wizarding bank, Gringotts.
Petunia does not invite Lily to be a bridesmaid, fearing being overshadowed by her witching abilities, and there is no further contact between the siblings apart from a note iforming the Dursleys of Harry's birth, which Petunia promptly bins.
Rowling explains that Mr Dursley's poor treatment of his nephew “stems in part, like Severus Snape’s, from Harry’s close resemblance to the father they both so disliked.”
She had wanted to redeem Aunt Petunia in the final book, but found that she had to stay true to her unlikeable character, and so left it so that Petunia was unable to say anything meaningful to Harry during their final goodbye.
Rowling also said that she named the family after the Gloucestershire town of Dursley, because she liked the way it sounded.
She wrote: "I have never visited Dursley, and I am sure it is full of charming people."

Where would literature be without the Second World War?

A new book about Hitler has convinced Simon Heffer that history scholarship can always improve

Hitler's lover Eva Braun (Juliane Koehler, left), Adolf Hitler (Bruno
Ganz, middle) and Albert Speer (Heino Ferch, right) in the 2004 film Downfall
Hitler's lover Eva Braun (Juliane Koehler, left), Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz, middle) and Albert Speer (Heino Ferch, right) in the 2004 film Downfall

Where would literature be without the Second World War? The fiction mostly came early on – the Sword of Honour trilogy, as well as fine novels by such underrated writers as Nicholas Monsarrat and Eric Ambler. The non-fiction, too, began as the Germans signed the surrender on L√ľneburg Heath, but the steady disclosure of documents and archives, especially since the fall of the Berlin Wall, has continued to provide new angles for the best historians.
Hitler – with his unfathomable depths of evil – remains the most analysed figure, but other leaders of the Third Reich have also been endlessly investigated.
There seem to be three consequences of this. The first is that more and more books pour out each year. The second is that most of them are pretty poor, being rewrites of other books that themselves were not much good to start with. The third is that the quality of scholarship for the very best works becomes better and better.
A couple of years ago Peter Longerich wrote a life of Himmler of such quality that no one will need to think for decades of writing another. This year, he has produced an even better book, about Goebbels: a more fruitful subject, lacking as he did Himmler’s obtuseness, and possessing that rarest of traits for a Nazi, a sense of humour.
But just when one thinks every possible aspect of this war has been covered, along comes a surprise. Such is Karina Urbach’s highly original new book, Go-Betweens for Hitler. The book describes the aristocrats who went on missions for Hitler with other powers in the Thirties and during the war.
Go-Betweens for Hitler: Karina Urbach’s "highly original new book"
The first part explains the unique nature of diplomacy among aristocrats before the Great War, assisted by widespread intermarriage between royalty and nobles from different European countries. Urbach then shows how this system developed during the war, despite the difficulties met by those who felt they belonged to two, sometimes opposing, nations.
The main figure in the book is Carl Eduard, Duke of Coburg, an English prince who, by accident of birth, became ruler of a German statelet. He was a grandson of Queen Victoria – the hub of the aristocratic/diplomatic network – by her son, the Duke of Albany. He was brought up English but, aged 15, his father having died and there being no other suitable candidate, was made ruler of Coburg. He was effectively apprenticed to the Kaiser to learn how to be German – and became German with a vengeance. He fought against Britain in the Great War, for which he was stripped of his British titles: but, as Urbach shows, this only served to equip him all the better for service to the Nazis.
In the Thirties Hitler was keen to make an alliance with the British. Coburg, as a cousin of our royal family, was crucial in this, and work began long before the abdication of Edward VIII provided a disaffected senior royal for the Nazis to work on. Further down the food chain, Princess Stephanie Hohenlohe – a middle class Viennese adventuress who got lucky – worked on the press baron Lord Rothermere, who supported appeasement. Then, until Pearl Harbor, she sought to cultivate pro-German opinion in the United States.
What makes this book so much more than what a friend of mine calls “Nazi porn” is its superb scholarship. It is the product of five years of archival research in England and Germany – Urbach is bilingual, and it shows, as does her detailed understanding of high society in both Britain and Germany.
So sensitive is the subject, however, that she found many archives closed to her – the Royal Archives make available none of the correspondence relevant to Edward VIII; the Rothermere papers are closed on this subject; and files for ministers who met go-betweens such as Lord Halifax and R A Butler, have been “weeded”. It is a terrible pity: I hope they will eventually be opened, as memories of the shame of having collaborated with the Nazis fade – and that Urbach will be around to update what, until then, will remain an unsurpassable work on this intriguing subject.