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This interview is taken from PN Review 119, Volume 24 Number 3, January - February 1998.

In Conversation with Philip Hobsbaum Nicolas Tredell

Glasgow, 20 December 1996

NICOLAS TREDELL: You were born in 1932 and you went to Belle Vue school in Bradford. Could we begin by fleshing out the details of your family background and schooling?

PHILIP HORSBAUM: The family background was very Jewish, especially on my mother's side. My grandparents on that side couldn't even speak English. My grandfather was the oldest man I ever met - he was born in 1849, which was pretty old even to be my mother's father. My father's side was much more Anglicized. They were almost certainly Polish immigrants, and my great-grandfather came to England in 1870. The family lived in Manchester first of all and were carpenters, and then came down to London. We're basically London-orientated, except that my father couldn't stand London, partly because of the anti-Semitism of the 1930s, of which there was a great deal, and partly because he saw the war coming and thought we'd all be bombed. So we left London in 1937 and went first of all to North Yorkshire and then West Yorkshire. So I was already secondary school age when we arrived in Bradford. Belle Vue was an appalling school. It was amazing that I learnt anything. One of the real tragedies of my life was that I was put into the wrong class. I won the top scholarship in North Yorkshire but it wouldn't transfer to West Yorkshire. So I left a fairly good minor public school, Sir ...


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