Title: My Diaries: Being a Personal Narrative of Events 1888-1914, Part Two
Author: Blunt, Wilfrid Scawen
Publication date: 1920
Library: Betty Boothroyd Library, The Open University, Milton Keynes
Call number: 941.0810924 BLU
Submitted by: Edmund G. C. King
Acquired by The Open University Library in 1977 (probably by donation), this copy of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt’s “My Diaries: Part Two” contains nearly 4000 words of verbal marginalia. A flyleaf inscription indicates that the book was bought in March 1920 (soon after publication) and most, if not all, of the annotation seem to date from around that time.
The annotator was the former Independent Labour Party politician John Arthur Fallows (1864-1935). He shows a special interest in what Blunt had to say about the origins of the First World War and the pre-war conduct of the Entente nations. Fallows emerges from the marginalia as a passionate anti-imperialist, whose Marxist politics evidently led him to take an anti-war (if not pacifist) position during the conflict itself.
This particular copy of Blunt is notable for the contemporary gossip that Fallows inscribes in the margins as well as his scathing and abusive commentary on Britain’s pre-war political establishment along with the aristocracy and the royal family. Edward VII and Winston Churchill are frequent targets of invective, gossip, and innuendo.
For further details and analysis, see: Edmund G. C. King, “Radicalism in the Margins: The Politics of Reading Wilfrid Scawen Blunt in 1920,” Journal of British Studies 55, no. 3 (July 2016): 501-18 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/jbr.2016.53).