Chosen as "Book of the Year 2011" by Rowan Williams in the New Statesman magazine. "A first class biography".
"Fascinating... a well researched warts-and-all biography".
Stephen Prickett, the Times Literary Supplement.
"Draws on personal archives never before seen to paint an attractive picture of the private man.
Charles Moore, The Telegraph
"An excellent biography, crisp, sometimes cutting, but never less than fair."
Ferdinand Mount, London Review of Books
Hewlett Johnson, the 'Red Dean' of Canterbury Cathedral from 1931 to 1963, was one of the most complex and intriguing public figures in twentieth-century Britain. Much of his theology was ahead of his time, but it was his political beliefs that attracted the most controversy. An avowed Christian Marxist and promulgator of pro-Soviet views, he was a globetrotting peace campaigner with the ear of political leaders around the world, a prolific writer and a famously gifted orator - he twice spoke to huge audiences at Madison Square Garden in New York. He was awarded the Soviet equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize, was tracked by MI5 for thirty-five years, was the subject of a splenetic debate in the House of Lords, and was condemned by an Archbishop of Canterbury as 'blind, unreasonable and stupid'.
John Butler's book is the first to draw on some 12,000 of Johnson's unpublished personal letters and papers, as well as the MI5 archives. At a time when the Cold War is starting to recede from living memory, Butler casts new light on church and politics in the era of communism and fascism, as well as on Johnson's career and private life. He argues that the 'Red Dean' deserves better than to be remembered only as a controversial cleric who alienated his colleagues and split public opinion with his radical politics, presenting a more complete portrait. Johnson's longevity was remarkable: he had two marriages, each of nearly thirty years, and became a father for the first time at the age of sixty-six. He did not retire as Dean until the age of eighty-nine, when he had served almost sixty years in the Anglican ministry.
The Foreword is written by Hewlett Johnson's elder daughter, Kezia Noel-Paton.
292 pages hardback with 69 photographs.