Reformed Characters: The Reform Club in history and literature
An Anthology with Commentary by Russell Burlingham and Roger Billis
Everyone knows the Reform Club as the scene of the wager that the world could be circumnavigated "In Eighty Days" as decribed in Jules Verne's novel; and countless Londoners and tourists have stood outside the Pall Mall facade of Barry's Grade I listed masterpiece wondering what goes on inside. In a new approach to the arcane world of 'Clubland', this book endeavours to conduct readers on a journey into the real Pall Mall landscape. This is neither conventional narrative history nor a mere tally of anecdotes. Instead, it tells the story of the club's development through the eyes of its most celebrated occupants.
Founded in 1836 as the 'Central Office' of the liberal party, the Reform existed for less than eighty years as a strictly political club, but whilst it did, it was the centre of Liberal and coalition government making and breaking. This book has chapters on the Liberal Prime Ministers, such as Palmerston, Asquith, and Lloyd George and the important political events in which they participated at the Club, as well as a section on its associations with several American Presidents.
The Reform Club has long been a home for famous writers - Thackeray and Henry James, H.G. Wells and Arnold Bennett. We see them at work and play: gossiping, quarrelling, scribbling. We encounter also the figures who increasingly come to dominate later generations: the journalists, Whitehall mandarins and the occasional louche or notorious character, such as Guy Burgess.