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Polly Toynbee searches in vain for one working-class ancestor

Though many of her distinguished forebears campaigned vigorously against privilege and conservative elitism, they were still too posh for Toynbee’s comfort

27 May 2023

9:00 AM

27 May 2023

9:00 AM

An Uneasy Inheritance: My Family and Other Radicals Polly Toynbee

Atlantic Books, pp.448, 20

Polly Toynbee’s fascinating, multi-generational memoir comes with a caveat to a Spectator reviewer. While her book is written with ‘self-conscious awareness’, Toynbee predicts, with a cautionary wag of the finger, that it will be reviewed in publications where ‘introspection is inconvenient’.

Of course, introspection drives her narrative. Toynbee, a self-confessed ‘silver-spooner’, was born into a family of towering academic and literary influencers who, while enjoying connections and lifestyles as posh as they come, almost consistently resisted and campaigned against conservative elitism and privilege.

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