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Kingsley Martin

Michael Ayrton (1921-1975)


Inscribed with title and dated 3.1.67

Watercolour with pencil

19 x 15 ½ inches

C H Rolph, Kingsley: The Life, Letters and Diaries of Kingsley Martin, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978, Front Cover

'A Century of British Art: 1945-2010', Chris Beetles Gallery, 5 October-6 November 2021, No 229

The political journalist, Kingsley Martin (1897-1969), was editor of The New Statesman and Nation for 30 years from 1930 to 1960, and did much to make it ‘the flagship weekly of the left’ by maintaining its loyalty to Labour while creating ‘a valuable forum for dissent’ (Adrian Smith in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). Michael Ayrton acknowledged the importance of The New Statesman in the development of his own political consciousness during his teenage years (as Kingsley Martin would recount in his 1968 autobiographical volume, Editor).

Ayrton had certainly met Martin by 7 January 1947, when they appeared together as panellists on the popular BBC Home Service radio programme, The Brains Trust. By the following decade, Ayrton was contributing articles and reviews to The New Statesman. They were also fellow members of the Savile Club, and the club possesses a portrait by Ayrton of Martin.

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