Deborah Friedell

Deborah Friedell is a contributing editor at the LRB.

Virginia Woolf​ wasn’t sure what she felt when she heard that Katherine Mansfield was dead. The cook, ‘in her sensational way’, had broken the news to her at breakfast: ‘Mrs Murry’s dead! It says so in the paper!’

At that one feels – what? A shock of relief? – a rival the less? Then confusion at feeling so little – then, gradually,...

From The Blog
29 December 2023

Not just anybody can be president of the United States. You have to be at least 35 years old, a ‘natural born citizen’ and a resident of the country for at least fourteen years. You can’t have already served two full terms as president. And, according to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, written just after the end of the American Civil War and ratified in 1868:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

Short Cuts: The Freedom Caucus

Deborah Friedell, 16 November 2023

In​ 2013, Mark Meadows was a new congressman from North Carolina. He’d owned a restaurant, then worked in real estate, but felt the call to rescue his country from godless socialism. He’d made a promise to his constituents: if they sent him to Washington, he would send ‘Mr Obama home, to Kenya or wherever it is’. The Republicans controlled the House of Representatives...

Something on Everyone: Hoover’s Secrets

Deborah Friedell, 27 July 2023

J. Edgar Hoover (wearing the hat) with Clyde Tolson in 1936.

Seventy years ago​, Gallup asked Americans for their opinion of J. Edgar Hoover. Only 2 per cent expressed strong disapproval. It was a result, the pollsters claimed, ‘virtually without parallel in surveys that have dealt with men in public life’. For decades, Hoover could luxuriate in the knowledge that he was,...

She received so much post, much of it hate mail, that it had to be delivered to her on special trucks; three secretaries, all called Madeline, helped her sort through her letters and turned the most threatening ones over to the FBI. In front of the White House, a group of women attempted to hang her in effigy: they said that they were all mothers, and that Thompson wanted ‘to give away a million boys’ lives in blood and pain’. Senators from Idaho, Montana and North Dakota called for her to be investigated as a ‘British agent’. How else to explain her comment, during the Battle of Britain, that if ‘democracy perishes in Britain, it will not be because the British people did not fight Hitler with all they had; it will be because … the world’s greatest democracy and brother free nation allowed them to perish without adequate aid’? It didn’t help that her father, a Methodist minister in upstate New York, had been born in Durham: proof of her divided loyalty.

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