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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Shock Discovery Of King's Interest In Things Intellectual

Monday 8th June 1936



The eleventh annual International Publishers Congress opened at the Stationers' Hall in the City of London under the presidency of Stanley Unwin. The delegates received the thrilling news that the Congress's President, Vice-President and organizing committee would be received by the King at Buckingham Palace that Thursday. This provided "gratifying evidence for the King's interest in and concern for the intellectual life of his people, and his realization of the important role played by book publishers."

The reality was rather different. The King was patron to the Congress having been made the Master of the Stationers' Company in 1934 so the honour extended to the organizers had more to do with the arcane world of the City's livery companies than promoting readership. International politics even crept into the speech delivered by Lord Eustace Percy with the unlikely proposition that international agreement on copyright recognition showed the way to non-aggression pacts for more conventional diplomatists. Whilst disclaiming "competitive propaganda" Percy insinuated that the British Council had a leading role to play in promoting world peace. Earlier in the year Percy had resigned from the government when he was passed over for the job of Minister of Defence Coordination, which invited the suspicion that he was aping Goering's declaration "When I hear the word culture, I take the safety catch off my revolver" only in reverse.

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