Bookmunch Reviews ‘Victor Grayson: The Man and the Mystery’

Thom Cuell, writer for the insightful blog Bookmunch, has given an in-depth review of David Clark’s reissue, Victor Grayson: The Man and the Mystery:



A rebel MP, regarded as a wildcard by the Parliamentary Labour Party but capable of generating mass support through a busy schedule of rallies, whose election convinced conservative newspapers that a ‘red graysonrevolution’ was coming. If only there was some contemporary parallel for the story of Victor Grayson.


Grayson is a legendary figure within the Labour party; ‘a rare political phenomenon who has developed into something of an icon over the years’ despite ‘just one election victory’ and ‘an inauspicious parliamentary career’, a great orator who left an indelible mark on his Northern constituents and caused a scandal with his behaviour in the House of Commons, before breaking with the labour movement over his belligerent pro-War stance in 1914.


His mystique is heightened by the circumstances of his disappearance. In late September 1920, Grayson walked out of his home in the company of two men, telling the manageress (with whom he was close) ‘I’ll be back in touch with you’. There were unconfirmed sightings in the UK, Europe and Australia in the decades which followed, before the trail ran cold in 1942.


David Clark, a former MP who had represented Grayson’s own constituency of Colne Valley, published his biography Labour’s Lost Leader in 1985. The Man and the Mystery builds on this work, adding interviews and discoveries made in the intervening years to offer a new theory of Grayson’s disappearance.


Grayson’s story is a fascinating one, and Clark has likely produced the definitive account (at least, barring any revelations in the MI5 files). While there are passages where the book is bogged down in the minutiae of backroom political machinations, this is by and large a lively and passionate telling of the life.

Read the full article here and buy your copy from Quartet Books, Amazon or bookstores throughout the country.