From Wheatfields to Windrush

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Did you know that, before the development of modern tests in the middle of the 20th century, Britain’s National Health Service used to check whether a woman was pregnant by injecting a toad with her urine? I confess that I didn’t. Sadly, it was just about the only truly arresting thing I learnt from reading […]

Foes in High Places

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Like many gregarious men, Winston Churchill had few friends. After Lord Birkenhead (F E Smith) drank himself to death in 1930, he probably had none. There were, of course, admirers. The most important of these was Churchill’s one-time private secretary John Colville, who celebrated the prime minister’s achievements, covered up his failures and curated his […]

A Fighter, Not a Feminist

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

It’s been hard to avoid Golda Meir’s presence in our cultural life in recent years. Meir, the only woman to serve as prime minister of Israel (between 1969 and 1974), has become a cinematic heroine, portrayed by Helen Mirren in a new biopic. Around a year ago, a comprehensive biography of her, The Only Woman […]

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