Another great review for Victor Grayson: The Man and the Mystery, this time from Jane Ridley of The Oldie:

Victor Grayson was a minor hero of the early Labour party. At the age of 39 he disappeared and was never seen again. David Clark, his biographer, is a Labour politician who once sat for Colne Valley, the same constituency as Grayson. He first published a biography of Grayson back in 1985. Since then Clark has done a lot of sleuthing and turned up new information about the missing years of Grayson’s life. The result is a thriller. I read it straight through in four hours in a single afternoon.


Victor Grayson shot to fame aged 26 when he won the 1907 Colne Valley by-election for Victor Grayson: The Man and the Mystery by David ClarkLabour. A clever working-class boy who grew up in the Manchester slums, Grayson trained to be a Unitarian minister, but when he discovered socialism he chucked religion. He was an electrifying speaker and his campaign speeches, delivered in a raw, rough voice, standing on a cart, thrilled huge crowds in the poor mill villages of Colne Valley. Grayson wanted a Labour Party that stood for socialism independent of the trade unions, and this issue – still unresolved by the Labour Party today – got him into trouble with the party bosses from the start. He was a rock-star orator, returning from his gigs drenched in sweat, but he had no talent for detail or party management. At Westminster he made a couple of dramatic interventions, calling his Labour colleagues class traitors, and he was sacked by the party. After he lost his seat in the January 1910 election he was finished as a Labour MP.


One day in September 1920 Grayson walked out of his flat and vanished for ever. Clark has discovered that Grayson left home carrying two large suitcases containing most of his possessions. This makes it unlikely that he was murdered, and it also knocks out the theory that he went mad or had a breakdown. Clark conjectures that Grayson changed his identity and lived on until around 1940. Stranger still, it seems that Grayson was the illegitimate son of an aristocratic family. His mother had worked as a servant in a grand house in Ireland, and Clark believes that she was paid to bring up the child. So who was Victor Grayson’s real father? Putting together the clues, Clark suggests that Grayson’s real father was the dissipated 8th Duke of Marlborough, the older brother of Lord Randolph Churchill. In other words, Victor Grayson was the first cousin of Winston Churchill. Whether this is true I have no idea. But it certainly makes a ripping story.

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