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This article is taken from PN Review 240, Volume 44 Number 4, March - April 2018.

Unseasonably Speaking Horatio Morpurgo
‘I am no agitator. But if you have something on your conscience, write it down. It will do you good. Your friends will be pleased.’
        – Letter from Joseph Roth to Stefan Zweig in London, 23 November 1933



LONDON, for Stefan Zweig, was as much of a home as he had anywhere between 1933 and 1939. A blue plaque in Hallam Street, to commemorate his time in the city, was refused in 2012. English Heritage judged it ‘best to let this debate play out further’. The Austrian writer’s ‘London connections did not appear strong enough’. His ‘profile has never been as high in Britain as elsewhere’ and there existed no ‘consensus’ here on the merits of his work.

The London Review of Books had, two years earlier, printed Michael Hofmann’s very spirited assault on Zweig’s reputation. Hofmann dismissed him as a spoilt child of fortune, unpardonably middle-brow. Showing how this ‘purveyor of Trivialliteratur’ (best left to ‘teenagers of all ages’) had been mocked in private by more gifted contemporaries, Hofmann added some memorable invective of his own. He was doubtless unimpressed by the writers, actors, scholars (and England football manager) who spoke up for a plaque. English Heritage was also unmoved. A spectral online trace is all that remains of the idea.

Broadcasting House backs onto Hallam Street and the area has been home to many influential journalists. There is a plaque, at the street’s northern end, for example, to Ed Morrow. There must be a consensus on Ed ...


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