A Question of Retribution?: The British Academy and the Matter of Anthony Blunt

ISBN : 9780197266786

David Cannadine
130 Pages
235 x 302 mm
Pub date
Jul 2020
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Through a unique set of documents never before published, this volume revisits the public furore when, at its Annual General Meeting forty years ago, the British Academy chose not to expel from its Fellowship the eminent art historian, Professor Anthony Blunt, who had recently been exposed as a former Soviet spy. The facsimile documents illustrate the intensely held views of leading academics as they wrestled with the question of whether considerations of pure scholarship could remain aloof from a revelation of political treachery. Also revealed is one faction's plot to stir up a public row through the national press - a tactic that was ultimately successful in achieving Blunt's resignation from the Academy. Historian and current President of the British Academy, David Cannadine, provides the background to the Blunt story, and portrays some of the main characters: Kenneth Dover, the President at the time who struggled to steer the Academy through the crisis; the historian J.H. Plumb, who led the vicious campaign to see Blunt expelled; and A.J.P. Taylor, who was equally determined that the Academy should be willing to 'tolerate the intolerable'.


Notes of the documents and sources
Documentary narrative
Index of Fellows and Staff at the British Academy
General Index

About the author: 

Sir David Cannadine is Dodge Professor of History at Princeton University, Visiting Professor at Oxford University, the Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and the current President of the British Academy. His works include: The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy; G.M. Trevelyan: A Life in History; Class in Britain; Margaret Thatcher: A Life and Legacy; and Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800-1906.

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