‘The year has, indeed, begun in gloom. The King ill, and Kipling dead . . .’ so wrote the diarist Chips Channon in 1936 as George V lay on his deathbed at Buckingham Palace. The passing of two such pillars of the establishment sent tremors through the nation and heralded the ending of the old order.
1936 was to be an extraordinary year: at home social and constitutional crisis threatened, while in Europe, the dictators were on the march. It was the year of the abdication and civil war in Spain. The tectonic plates of history were shifting – Britain would never be the same again.
The Last Dance is told using the accounts of those who lived through this turbulent period. Through extracts from diaries of shopkeepers, socialites, bishops, and volunteers in Spain, and the memoirs of the unemployed, housewives and hostesses, as well as the contemporary accounts of politicians, journalists and poets, Blakeway offers a compelling and vivid account of a turning point in our nation’s story.