Paul Routledge, features correspondent for the Huddersfield Examiner, has reviewed the captivating Victor Grayson: The Man and the Mystery by David Clark, released on 15 June this summer. Read his article below:
It was his big chance, and the self-styled people’s hero of Colne Valley seized it with both hands.
The date was December 16, 1905, the place was Huddersfield Town Hall and this was the first time curious local voters had clapped eyes on Victor Grayson. He gave a dazzling performance that put him on the road to Westminster.
They weren’t going to forget him in a hurry, and his name still reverberates down the decades as the man who left behind the biggest political mystery of his time. It involves high society, the Great War, the sale of honours, the Churchill family and stories of illegitimate sons of aristocracy farmed out to the poor.
One Saturday night in late September 1920, he disappeared. He left his mansion block with two men, loaded down with two suitcases containing his entire possessions. He was never seen again – or, at any rate, he never showed his face in public again. He was widely assumed to be dead but David Clark produces evidence that he was given a new identity and bankrolled to go into hiding, probably to protect the reputation of someone rich and famous. But who?
Clark deduces that Grayson’s father was an aristocrat, and suggests that he was probably the immoral eighth Duke of Marlborough, George Spencer Churchill, uncle of Winston Churchill. Grayson had the look of young Churchill about him, and shared his fondness for the good life, high society and drink. They were acquainted, and were both famous orators.
They could have been related. Who knows?