[The Burke Club, a wartime 'Conservative' club of which T. S. Eliot was a member.] 'Confidential' typed account by founder P. C. Loftus, titled 'The Burke Dinner Club. Some Notes (1948)'. With typed list of 'Suggested names'

Author: 
P. C. Loftus [Pierse Creagh Loftus] (1877-1956), MP, founder of the Burke Dinner Club, London [T. S. Eliot; Sir Osbert Sitwell; Collin Brooks; Edmund Burke]
Publication details: 
[The Burke Dinner Club, London.] Loftus's account, including a list of members, dated from his home, Reydon Covert, Southwold, Suffolk; September 1948. List of 'Suggested Names' undated.
£350.00
SKU: 21125

Both items in good condition, lightly aged. Surprisingly little is to be discovered regarding this club (not to be confused with 'The Club' founded in 1764). Casting an interesting light on the wartime reaction against the push for nationalisation and the welfare state. T. S. Eliot's involvement has apparently missed the attention of his biographers. From the papers of club member and Fleet Street editor Collin Brooks. ONE: Duplicated typescript, headed 'CONFIDENTIAL THE BURKE DINNER CLUB. Some Notes (1948)'. 5pp., foolscap 8vo. On five leaves, with punch holes to margin for ring binder. The first part is the four-page account, dated at the end September 1948, with Loftus's name and address. The fifth page carries 'A complete list of present members', headed 'BURKE CLUB MEMBERS – Sept. 1948.' The account is divided into twelve numbered parts, and begins: '1. In February or March 1943 in the course of conversation with Major Guy Kindersley at the Carlton Club I told him that I thought it might be a good idea to form a Conservative Dinner Club consisting of 12 M.Ps and 12 Conservative writers and journalists. I suggested that such a club might fulfill a useful function by forming a liaison between right wing politicians and writers and provide opportunities of meeting and informal discussions and of mutual understanding of each others difficulties. | Major Kindersley was enthusiastic and it was due largely to his continued urging that I proceeded to take steps to form the Club.' He describes in detail the process of bringing the club into being and framing its rules, quoting at length from early circulars. On 3 June 1943 he states that T. S. Eliot and Douglas Jerrold are among ten men who have 'intimated their intention of being present', while 'Mr. Arthur Bryant does not desire to be associated with any party club. […] The general idea is to have a monthly dinner when Parliament is sitting on a fixed day. About half of those present to consist of M.P.s and about half Non-M.P.s (chiefly writers) | The object would be general discussion of present political ideas and tendencies, especially in relation to national tradition and to the fundamental principles which have guided us in the past. The general connecting link, I take it, would be opposition to the tendency towards the highly centralised state and a belief that post war changes in our political, economic and social structure should be in accordance with our history and national character, rather than imitations or adaptations of foreign methods and ideas. We would also be united I suggest in stressing the organic nature of the State, thereby being opposed to the idea that any fixed and final scheme of national organisation is either practicable, enduring or desirable. | In short our attitude, I take it, would be in harmony with the outlook of Edmund Burke and therefore if it is desirable for the club to have a name I would suggest it should be called the Burke Club.' Among the club's wartime guests were the King of Greece, Lord Rothermere and Harold Macmillan. 'Originally (from 1943 to 1945) we dined in a private suite of rooms at The Trocadero. (One of the last dinners there was on V.E. Night with rejoicing crowds below the balcony). We tried the Dorchester on several nights but it was more expensive and members voted for the Trocadero. | After the 1945 election we had to hold the dinners in the Palace of Westminster so that M.P.s could attend to divisions. […] The Club membership now is about 35.' 'In the earlier years of the Club we used to arrange for a particular subject to be first discussed at the next dinner and for a member (or a guest) to open the matter by a talk to be followed by general debate. Thus Manningham Buller on his return from Russia during the war started a discussion on conditions in that country and Voigt on his return from Greece did the same: and they answered questions afterwards. Recently Guy Lloyd did the same about his visit to Spain. Among our guests Lord Rothermere open[ed] a talk about the Press, Sir F. Morgan about displaced persons in Europe, Oliver Stanley about the colonies and so on.' He ends by suggesting that members might be notified beforehand by letter regarding the 'subject of discussion': 'There are many occasions when such a letter is desirable e.g. at the present time on Hyderabad or possibly Palestine or on some flagrant instance of Bureaucratic tyranny at home or on the shortage of newsprint.' The final page carries the names and addresses of members, beginnning with 'T. S. Eliot, O.M. | c/o Faber & Faber, | 24 Russell Street, W.C.1.' Other literary members include Douglas Jerrold, Douglas Woodruff, Collin Brooks, Sir Osbert Sitwell and Lord Tweedsmuir. TWO: Original typed list of 'Suggested names' and 'Present Membership', headed 'Burke Club'. 1p., 8vo. Undated. Three of the twenty 'Suggested names' – beginning with 'Lord Hinchingbrooke' and 'Group Capt. Helmore', and including Sir David Fyfe – are ticked in pencil. At foot of page: 'All have attended he dinners. | Mr. A. P. Herbert would wish to join and has been asked. | Brig. Harvey Watt would like to receive an invitation.'