Category Archives: Miscellaneous

An article at the Canary is critical of Dalrymple

Peter Bolton from The Canary wrote to us to let us know about his new piece that criticizes right-wing commentators for hypocrisy on the subject of civil discourse. He says Theodore Dalrymple is the most notable culprit:

In a highly competitive field, the prize for the most glaring peddler of wilful bias may go to the conservative essayist Anthony Daniels, better known by his pen name Theodore Dalrymple… 

Daniels’ writing often focuses on what he sees as the decline in manners, self-respect, decency, and personal responsibility in both public and private life in the UK. And for Daniels, the blame for this decline lies squarely with Britain’s political and intellectual class, along with their purported embrace of popular culture at the expense of high culture. This criticism, however, is seemingly reserved almost exclusively for those who he considers left of center.

It’s a fairly long piece with many examples, as Bolton sees it, of Dalrymple’s hypocrisy. Read it here.

Bolton asked if Dalrymple would like to reply, and I expect him to reply here shortly.

Apologies for the recent hiatus

I am sorry that I haven’t posted any new Dalrymple pieces in the last couple of months. I have received several emails questioning whether Dalrymple is even writing any more, and I can assure you that he is writing as much as ever. I have had some challenges in my personal life that have made maintaining the blog difficult, and I feel the need to explain. In late January, my identical twin brother Clint, with whom I built and maintained this blog, passed away suddenly from a seizure disorder that began three years ago. His death has made life difficult for me, and I have not had the heart to continue posting. I plan to start up again soon, perhaps with one “catch up” entry that lists all of the pieces I’ve missed. We were lax enough in keeping up with Dalrymple and posting all of his pieces when it was the two of us, and I’m not sure I can do it alone. Therefore, if anyone would like to assist me in maintaining the blog, I would welcome the help. You can contact me by commenting on this post or by emailing me at


Clint took great meaning and enjoyment from Dalrymple’s work and worldview, and in helping to promote them. The opportunities we have had to get to know Dalrymple personally have been a real thrill, as have the opportunities to meet and communicate with so many of his readers. I want to thank you all for having helped to make my brother’s life a better one.


Clint Conatser 1971-2018

Rest in Peace


Footage of Dalrymple in North Korea

Many of you may know of Dalrymple’s 1989 visit to North Korea as part of a communist British delegation to the World Festival of Youth and Students, as recounted in his book The Wilder Shores of Marx.

Skeptical Doctor reader Yakimi has made a tremendous discovery, finding actual footage of Dalrymple in a YouTube video of the event. See Yakimi’s note – and the link to the video – in his message below:

Off-topic, but I have a discovery to share.

You may recall Theodore Dalrymple’s account of his journey in 1989 to the World Festival of Youth and Students held in North Korea. I was recently rereading that chapter of The Wilder Shores of Marx when I had the idea of seeing whether there existed any footage of him at the event. As luck would have it, YouTube is host to a two-hour film ( documenting the festival. Dalrymple mentioned that the British delegation wore a uniform of “stormtrooper brown”, so I revieiwed the footage keeping an eye out for them.

At 31:39, a figure wearing a brown shirt and strongly resembling Dalrymple as he appears on the book’s dust jacket can be seen, resting his chin on his fist. He appears again at 32:35, holding a camera.

I do believe that to be Dalrymple. What do you think?

(Sadly, the footage of Dalrymple telling the wrestler that he hates sports or that of him being forced to dance were not featured.)

What a great find! H/t Yakimi

Scapegoated Capitalism

We’ve previously posted two articles Dalrymple has written for The Journal of Modern Wisdom, a publication from author and philosopher Ben Irvine devoted to the search for wisdom and the good life. In addition to publishing Dalrymple, Ben has been a friend to this blog for years, and now he has a new book we want to tell you about. Scapegoated Capitalism examines the history of scapegoating generally, shows how it is perhaps inherent in human nature and demonstrates how it reveals itself today in the arguments of anti-capitalists, who blame an obviously beneficial economic system for problems that have other causes:

The scapegoating of individuals is bad enough when the accused share the blame with their accusers. But, in fact, the blaming of capitalists is more sinister still. The policies advocated and implemented by anti-capitalists do not mitigate but rather cause or worsen the problems that capitalism is accused of causing. Capitalism is therefore blamed not so much for everyone’s sins as for sins that belong to its accusers.

Readers like me who reject the accusation of ignorance and hatred often thrown at defenders of the free market will appreciate Irvine’s linkage of capitalism’s critics to the witch-hunters of old, for it is the big-government types who rely most on ignorance, fear and demonization.

Scapegoated Capitalism is available for the Kindle at Amazon.

Reminder: Meetup in NYC this Tuesday, Dec. 1st

Just a friendly reminder that we’ll be hosting a happy hour meetup of readers of this blog on Tuesday evening in NYC, starting at 6 pm (or so).

Please note that Dalrymple himself will not be there. I apologize if I gave anyone the impression that he would be.

Email for the details if you’d like to join us.

In response to multiple requests, we are currently working on scheduling one in London, and more information will be coming soon.

NYC meetup for Dalrymple readers on Tuesday, December 1st

We’re looking forward to hosting another happy hour meetup of Dalrymple readers, anyone else who reads our site, and like-minded types on Tuesday evening, December 1st in Manhattan.

We had a great time at our first such event back in July, discussing our favorite writers, swapping stories of being under intellectual siege in Gotham, and conspiring to rid the world of shallowness, rudeness and Madonna (but I repeat myself). This time we will surely solve Europe’s terrorism problem, come up with a plan to defeat Bill de Blasio, and reimpose reasonable standards of etiquette and civilization on Western society.

If you’d like to join us, please email me at for the details.

Among other smart and friendly people, we’ll be joined by writer Robert Wargas, whose September Weekly Standard piece on libertarianism might make for some interesting discussion.

Dalrymple in documentary “Death of a Nation”

As mentioned in the New English Review piece posted immediately below, Dalrymple visited East Timor during the brutal Indonesian occupation to participate in the making of a documentary about the atrocities committed there. Steve found the documentary here on YouTube yesterday and immediately recognized the anonymous doctor commenting in silhouette at the 37:10 mark.

Dalrymple’s ensuing 1994 piece describing the occupation in the Spectator, published under the pseudonym Edward Theberton, is available here (h/t Yakimi.) This powerful, intense article is well worth a read, as it gives a sense of what it is like to visit a totalitarian dictatorship:

Ten photographers, one with a video camera, took my picture before I reached the terminal building. Some foreign politicians were soon to arrive on an investigative mission, and the authorities wanted no troublemakers to interfere with their valiant (though in the event unavailing) efforts to mislead them about the monstrous injustice of Indonesian rule in East Timor…

No sooner had I walked out into the streets of Dili than a goon on a motorcycle followed me like a kerb-crawler in search of a prostitute. I stared into his dark glasses and turned to walk in the opposite direction. Disregarding the one-way system (there is very little traffic in Dili), he turned to follow me, making no effort to disguise the fact. I smiled at him, but his face remained blank; after a quarter of an hour, he left me, to return to my side at frequent intervals…

As in all totalitarian states, communication in East Timor is indirect, through gnomic hints, single statements blurted out as if by sudden irresistible impulse, and by brief but intense encounters. ‘It is not good here;’ My family was killed;’ My sister was raped by many soldiers;’ You must tell the world what we still suffer.’

The documentary states that two Australian teams of journalists were murdered there in 1975 for reporting on the invasion. Sometimes I think it is amazing that Dalrymple is still alive.

Meetup of Dalrymple readers in New York

One of our commenters, Brian, recently had a fine idea: having a few fellow Dalrymple readers get together for dinner and drinks in Manhattan, where some of us live and/or work. Clint and I have had the pleasure of meeting many Dalrymple readers at various events over the years and have always been impressed with them and in particular with the Skeptical Doctor readers and commenters and look forward to meeting more. It turns out our friend Gavin, who does heroic work running the excellent Dalrymple Forum and associated Twitter account and who also rebuilt our website (he’s a very talented pro at this stuff), will be making his first trip to New York next week, so we thought this would be the perfect time for a meetup. As such, we are looking at Wednesday night, July 8, at a restaurant or bar still to be determined. No, Dalrymple himself will not be there, but I am sure we will have a good time anyway.

If you plan to join us, may I ask you to RSVP to with the number of people in your party? The more the merrier as far as we are concerned (especially since everyone is paying for themselves). Once we have a headcount, we can select an appropriate location and maybe reserve a table or two. We will provide the location via email to those who RSVP.

Thanks, everyone.

Dalrymple’s foreword to A Companion to Murder

In a recent article for Taki’s Magazine, Dalrymple mentioned that he had tried to do some research on one of his favorite writers but was surprised at the lack of information available online (while there is a seemingly infinite amount of trivial information about people of no discernable accomplishment whatever). The writer is Edward Spencer Shew, and Dalrymple had been researching him in order to write the foreword to a new ebook release of Shew’s work A Companion to Murder. Winner of the 1963 Edgar Special Award, the book is now available from Monday Books, who describe it as “a true crime classic” and “a fascinating A to Z compendium of fifty years of English murder trials, from 1900 on”.

The ebook is available here for the UK and here for the US. Monday Books has posted two long excerpts here.

Publisher Dan Collins was grateful enough to allow us to post Dalrymple’s foreword.

Edward Spencer Shew was born in 1908 and died aged 68 in 1977. For many years he was a parliamentary lobby correspondent. He published a novel, Miss Proutie, in 1952, and in 1971 a pulp novel adaptation of a Hammer horror film, The Hands of the Ripper, itself based on a short story by him. His wife Betty wrote books about royalty and in 1996 letters that the Queen had written to her in 1947 about her future husband, Prince Philip, were sold at auction.

Between his excursions into fiction, Edward Spencer Shew wrote two classic books, A Companion to Murder, published in 1960, and A Second Companion to Murder, published in 1961. The first of these books won an Edgar Award in 1963, one of the prestigious prizes awarded annually by the Mystery Writers of America. But I think it fair to say that, brilliant and entertaining as these books are, they are nowadays known only to a small group of aficionados. I have never met anyone, however, who has read them who did not become a devotee and an admirer of their author.

They do not pretend to be encyclopaedias of murders committed in Britain between 1900 and 1950, but rather compendia of the most interesting cases. The period chosen includes the apogee and then decline of what might be called the golden age of British murder, that is to say of murder committed not just in that sordid underworld that has always existed and in which murder is only to be expected, but of murder committed in a respectable and religious middle or lower middle class environment, where murders were not just a matter of ‘two blockheads to kill and be killed,’ as De Quincey put in his essay On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts. Spencer Shew wrote at the end of what might be called the cosy era of crime in Britain, during which violence had fallen to the lowest levels in history and therefore might be read about in comfort as something exotic and mildly titillating.

George Orwell, in The Decline of the English Murder, delineated what the criteria for the ‘perfect murder’ of the period:

The murderer should be a little man of the professional class… living an intensely respectable life somewhere in the suburbs, and preferably in a semi-detached house, which will allow the neighbours to hear suspicious sounds through the wall. He should be either chairman of the local Conservative Party branch, or a leading Non-conformist and strong Temperance advocate. He should go astray through cherishing a guilty passion… In the last analysis he should commit murder because this seems to him less disgraceful, and less damaging to his career, than being detected in adultery.

Such murders can be committed only where respectability retains its hold as a desideratum on the great mass of the population, and Spencer Shew chronicled, through its crime, the end of the era of respectability. His book is therefore valuable as social history; but if he was fortunate in his period, his period was fortunate in him.

His vignettes of the murders, murderers, victims, trials, defence and prosecution barristers, and judges (who were all household names in their day as are stars of television programmes now), are masterpieces of compression, conveying atmosphere, character and event in few but brilliantly chosen words. Here, for example, are the first words of his description of the infamous ‘Brides in the Bath’ murderer, George Joseph Smith, who pretended to marry three women in succession and then drowned them in the bath a few days afterwards (claiming that they had suffered from epileptic fits) to collect their insurance money:

George Joseph Smith, murderer, bigamist, swindler, performer on the harmonium…

The last characteristic comes to the reader as an electric shock, and also conveys to perfection the Non-conformist petty bourgeois milieu in which Smith operated. The tune he played after drowning his so-called wives, incidentally, was ‘Nearer my God to thee.’

Spencer Shew mastered the art – one of the hardest for a writer to master – of paring everything down to its essentials, not a word too many, not a word out of place. If you want to know about the social history of Britain, if murder interests you as it interests most of mankind, if you want to learn how to write spare, accurate English prose full of humour without flippancy and rawness without vulgarity, read Edward Spencer Shew!