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Tony Grist

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Roll Of Honour [Jan. 27th, 2012|10:07 am]
Tony Grist
The list of those who turned down honours is a roll of honour in its own right.

Pride of place goes to the painter L.S Lowry. The Palace courted him assiduously, offering different bangles on five separate occasions- and he turned them down every time. 

Other artists who said "No"- only not so often- include Ben Nicholson, John Piper, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.

Then there are the writers: Aldous Huxley, C.S. Lewis, Philip Larkin, Roald Dahl, Graham Greene, Robert Graves, Eleanor Farjeon.  At their head stands J.B. Priestley, the only person on the list to turn down a peerage. 

Actors love sparkly things, but here are four who resisted: Trevor Howard, Andrew Cruikshank, Paul Scofield and (the most surprising name on the list) Robert Morley.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2012-01-27 10:26 am (UTC)
Heroes, the lot of them.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-01-27 10:38 am (UTC)
It makes me glad there are so many of them.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-01-27 11:25 am (UTC)
Almost surprising to find Lewis's name on the list. I'd have taken him for a God-and-country type.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-01-27 12:31 pm (UTC)
Few of the nay-sayers were fire-eating lefties. Some of them are recognisably members of the awkward squad- but others- John Piper, Robert Morley- seem (but perhaps only seem) to be
establishment figures. Roald Dahl is said to have turned down an OBE because he thought he deserved a knighthood. It would be nice to know why they all did it.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-01-28 11:39 am (UTC)
I am tempted to agree with Dahl.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-01-28 01:02 pm (UTC)
Evelyn Waugh had a similar attitude.

I was reading about Dahl the other day. He was- apparently- a most obnoxious person.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-01-29 12:36 pm (UTC)
I would not be surprised to learn that Dahl was obnoxious. Wonka probably didn't fall too far from the tree.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-01-29 05:28 pm (UTC)
There's a real nastiness about Dahl's books- a vindictive misanthropy and misogyny. It's what gives them their relish.

Children love them because, as J.M. Barrie noted, children are heartless.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-01-30 01:28 pm (UTC)
Indeed.
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From: (Anonymous)
2012-01-27 12:30 pm (UTC)
Brilliant - I agree it is a roll of honour! They have gone way up in my estimation - for what that is worth.
Jenny x
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-01-27 12:34 pm (UTC)
I don't despise those who accept honours, but I admire those who don't.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2012-01-27 02:37 pm (UTC)
When asked, ho ho, I would turn down anything except a peerage. That would be a call to serve my country, whereas the rest is just Shiny.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-01-27 03:31 pm (UTC)
I'd turn down anything. I wouldn't want to be part of a system I'd like to see ended.

But I understand that people often have good reason for accepting. Roger McGough was saying he took his gong because it reflected honour on his city and his working-class roots. Also on Poetry. That's not ignoble.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2012-01-27 04:18 pm (UTC)
and (the most surprising name on the list) Robert Morley.

You're right: I'm not at all surprised by Francis Bacon or Robert Graves, but I am by Morley. What were his reasons?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-01-27 06:51 pm (UTC)
I haven't been able to find out.

I understand he was a very modest man. Perhaps that had something to do with it.
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[User Picture]From: raakone
2012-01-28 12:55 am (UTC)

And then there's another roll....

Someone should ahve a list of those who initially accepted their honors, but then "sent them back"...for one reason or another. I read at one point the Beatles all got OBEs...or at least John Lennon did.....and they turned them back to show their dissatisfaction with the government. Also, Rabindranath Tagore, celebrated Bengali poet who wrote what became the national anthems of India and Bangladesh, was awarded a knighthood in 1915 for his contributions to poetry. He returned it in 1919 after the Amritsar massacre, disgusted at the British and rightfully so.

Curious, do you think the British honors system should be completely ended, or do you think it should be modified to resemble, say, that of Canada? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Canada , i.e. with no knighthoods)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-01-28 10:31 am (UTC)

Re: And then there's another roll....

That's right. The Beatles all got MBEs and Lennon later returned his- as a protest against British foreign policy and Cold Turkey dropping in the charts.

It may be possible to create an honours system which is genuinely democratic and uncorrupt, but I rather doubt it, so I'd rather do without. If you're genuinely distinguished you don't need a gong and if you're not you don't deserve one.
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