In its own small sphere, the destruction by Express Newspapers of the Beaverbrook Library must rank as one of the worst acts of intellectual vandalism in recent years. No one who had the privilege of working there during its brief existence in the late Sixties and early Seventies will ever forget it. There, instantly accessible in their sliding metal racks, were the Lloyd George, Bonar Law, Beaverbrook and other papers; on a quiet day, when one was trusted, one could actually get out one's own files. There also were to hand not only Hansard but Beaverbrook's copies of the biographies and memoirs of practically every political figure of the 20th century, generously supplemented by A.J.P. Taylor's accumulated review copies. From time to time there would emerge from his tiny office in the thin end of the wedge-shaped building, behind the Sickert portrait of Beaverbrook and the cases of Lloyd George memorabilia, the high priest Alan Taylor himself, presiding gnome-like over the shrine of his late friend and mentor the arch-hobgoblin, whose life he was writing. But, best of all, around the walls hung a wonderful selection of original Low cartoons.
LRB 23 January 1986 | PDF Download