The Diaries of Tony Benn and Chris Mullin

Tony Benn and Chris Mullin at the Durham Miners Gala

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British political life revealed in diaries

No politician in history has left such a comprehensive account of himself and his times as Tony Benn (1925- 2014) From his mid-teens until almost the end of his life, he kept, with one short break, a detailed daily diary of the events he took part in, the people he met and the thoughts that ran through his mind. The full archive runs to an estimated 20 million words. They reveal a man who’s devotion to political life – as both insider and outsider – was only matched by that for his family. The British Library recently announced that it had acquired Tony Benn’s archive for the nation – including many hours of audio as well as paper diaries and associated documents.

MP Chris Mullin’s diaries are a recent classic of the genre. Sharp and insightful, they cover the ‘New Labour’ years from 1994 to the 2010 general election

At this event exploring the personal documenting of political life, the editor of both diaries for publication, Ruth Winstone, is joined by Tony Benn’s daughter Melissa and by Chris Mullin himself. Chaired by Peter Hennessey

Melissa Benn is a writer and a campaigner, especially for equality and quality in education. She is currently a regular contributor to The Guardian and New Statesman and many other publications and the author of eight books, including novels Public Lives and One of Us. Her non-fiction works include Madonna and Child: Towards a New Politics of Motherhood; School Wars: The Battle for Britain’s Education and What Should We Tell Our Daughters? The Pleasures and Pressures of Growing Up Female.

Peter Hennessy, Baron Hennessy of Nympsfield, is a historian, author, academic, journalist and broadcaster specialising in the history of government. Since 1992, he has been Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary University of London.

Chris Mullin is an author and journalist who was Labour MP Sunderland South from 1987 to 2010, a minister in three departments and chairman of the Home Affairs select committee. His books include three highly acclaimed volumes of diaries, A View from the Foothills, Decline and Fall and A Walk-On Part; also the novel A Very British Coup which was made into an award-winning television series. His most recent volume of memoirs is Hinterland.

Ruth Winstone worked for many years as a senior clerk in the library of the House of Commons and for Tony Benn from 1985 until his death in 2014. She edited his diaries for publication in three volumes and one single compilation, and also edited Chris Mullin's published trilogy of diaries. She is the author of Events, Dear Boy, Events: A Political Diary of Britain 1921 to 2010, which retells Britain's history through the great diarists of the last century.

Part of the British Library’s Diaries and Memoirs Season, February – March 2019

Image: Tony Benn and Chris Mullin at the Durham Miners Gala


Name: The Diaries of Tony Benn and Chris Mullin
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Price: Full Price: £15.00
Member: £15.00
Senior 60+: £12.00
Student: £10.00
Registered Unemployed: £10.00
Under 18: £10.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546