White Tie and Decorations: Sir John and Lady Hope Simpson in Newfoundland, 1934-1936

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In February 1934, a financial emergency created by the Great Depression forced the suspension of self-government in Newfoundland. Britain guaranteed Newfoundland's debt and appointed a Commission of Government. Among the first members named to the new government was Sir John Hope Simpson, whose portfolio included responsibility for fishing, forestry, mining, and agriculture. This book is a selection from the many letters written from Newfoundland to family members in England by Sir John and Lady Hope Simpson (familiarly known as Quita). It recalls in vivid detail the terrible decade of the 1930s. The reader relives the era through the eyes of a couple who had a unique and informed perspective on events in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Sir John Hope Simpson was a man of wide international experience and exceptional administrative ability. His correspondence is candid and direct - that of an insider. Quita's letters reveal a perceptive and inquisitive nature and a pervading social concern. Both write about their progressive, even utopian, ideas. They travelled extensively in the country, met a wide range of people, and recorded their experiences in letters that capture the essence of the time.

Peter Neary's edition is based on the collection of Hope Simpson papers at Balliol College, Oxford. His selection from the Newfoundland correspondence is complemented in the book by maps and photographs. Neary's introduction lays the groundwork for an understanding of the letters and the milieu of the Hope Simpsons.

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Editorial Reviews

David MacFarlane

'In White Tie and Decorations, a delightful collection of the letters of two distinguished visitors to Newfoundland - superbly edited by ... historian Peter Neary - the St. John's and the Newfoundland of the past come abruptly and clearly into focus.'

William Rowe

'The passages deliver a fascinating insight into the private minds of two members of that upper-middle clerkish class of England whose condescending liberalism, jolly-the-locals-along approach, and eagerness to make a career of performing the scutwork of empire, kept much of the map of the world British red for so long.'

Nancy Schiefer

'Packed with information and pungent with wit, incident and wonderful descriptive content, the account Neary has edited of Newfoundland life during 1934 through 1936 is a history studded page-turner of uncommon quality.'

Bob Benson

'Neary's work is a fine book and deserves to be on every Newfoundlander's must-read list.'

C.J. Fox

'Peter Neary, doyen of experts on the 20th-century history of his native Newfoundland, has performed a signal service in conceiving and compiling this book. The letters by Sir John Hope Simpson and his spouse "Quita" to their family back in Britain make a first-class historical and literary document. ... Neary's enterprise and editorial aplomb have added a book of classic quality to the bibliography of Newfoundland. But its appeal will transcend the boundaries of provincial history and exclusively Canadian interest. There is a universal dimension to its descriptions, reportage, and sheer humanity.'

A collection of excerpts from letters between Sir John and Lady Hope Simpson to relatives in England, written during the 1930s when Simpson was in charge of fishing, forestry, mining, and agriculture in Newfoundland. The letters detail life in the region during the Great Depression, and reveal the Simpsons' progressive and utopian ideas. Includes b&w photos and maps. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802080851
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 3/7/1997
  • Edition description: REP
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 9.01 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Neary is a professor of history and Dean of the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Western Ontario. He is the author of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic World, 1929-1949, and has published a number of other works on Newfoundland.
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