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Losing his marbles…

Sent in by a loyal jotwatcher. We have had many heavily annotated review copies, some angrily, some with further scholarship, praise or damning criticism.The Hon. Michael  Foot was a good customer at our West End shop and was much liked. He spent money, which is always endearing. He could get behind a cause and was in his way a powerful man...one of the 'great and the good' - like the late, lamented Tony Benn. Thanks for emailing this in:

This letter was discovered in Michael Foot’s review copy of William St Clair’s Elgin Marbles (1998), which was inscribed to the reviewer by the author. Judging by the angry-looking pencil marks  in the margin, Foot was mainly interested in Chapter 24,which focused on the cavalier way in which British Museum ‘cleaners’ under the direction of the egregious Lord Duveen, rightly condemned by St Clair as an  ‘unscrupulous art dealer’, damaged for ever the surface of most of the Marbles back in the mid ‘thirties.

The publication of St Clair’s exposé—particularly  his accusations that  a cover-up by the PR department and curatorial staff of the Museum-- over the past few decades, prevented the scandal emerging much earlier, caused a huge rumpus at the time. Worse still, the subsequent further threats and bullying of external experts and the Press that followed the publication of the book, reverberates even today. St Clair was particularly incensed by the sneering review of his book by one Ian Jenkins, a supposed ‘expert’ at the BM, who referred to the author as an ‘ amateur’ and who stated quite erroneously that only ten percent of the Marbles had been damaged.

The whole truth has yet to be exposed.

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