Eric Hobsbawm's death provoked violently contradictory reactions in the media. In one camp, the BBC, the Guardian, The Times and others proclaimed him the greatest historian of our time. In the other, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail dismissed him as a propagandist who distorted the historical facts to suit his own ideology. In both cases much more attention was devoted to him than is normally given to historians, or indeed to writers of any kind. Clearly his extreme left-wing views contributed at least as much to his fame as the merits of his books.
When I first met him in the late 1960s, Hobsbawm was already a fashionable and much admired figure among academics and intellectuals. He and his warm-hearted and witty wife Marlene lived in a comfortable family house in Hampstead, enjoying a quintessentially middle-class existence. Eric smoked a pipe and liked his slippers to be laid out for him when he got home.
I became friendly with them, particularly with Marlene, through my then husband John Gross, who had met Eric at King's College, Cambridge, where John had been an English lecturer and Eric a Fellow.
The Hobsbawms were exceptionally generous hosts, giving many lunch and dinner parties for their mostly left-leaning friends. We were frequently invited to these jolly and stimulating gatherings. John, however, would often find reasons not to accompany me: he was totally out of sympathy with Eric's politics and felt uneasy about too much socialising with someone who persisted in supporting the murderous Soviet regime. I, on the other hand, was politically very ignorant and anyway shared the generally accepted view that friendship and politics should be kept apart.
- Shame On The Liberals Who Rationalise Terror
- France, Islam, And The Second Class Sex
- Isis Is Not Invincible — If The West Has The Will
- After Paris, Who Will Speak For France?
- The Establishment Is In Denial — Yet Again
- Don't Patronise Muslims: Integrate Them Properly
- The Israel Boycotters Who Threaten Us All
- Britain Is A Free Country — Thanks To The Queen
- Is British Democracy Still For The People?
- The Great Climate Change Boondoggle
- Obama's Iran Deal Makes The World More Dangerous
- 'Anti-Extremists' Who Equate Israel With IS
- Russia's Moment: How Putin Has Seized The Day
- The Jihadist Challenge To The Nation State
- The Stalinist Past Of Corbyn’s Strategist
- Bank Recapitalisation And The Great Recession
- Licence To Chill? Not Yet, Prime Minister
- Money Can't Buy Us Love: Profiting From Loneliness
- More Immigration Means Less Integration
- Is France As Doomed As Houellebecq Thinks?