The Red Dean: book of the year

The good news just keeps coming, this week!

Hewlett Johnson c.1940

Hewlett Johnson c.1940

I am delighted to announce that John Butler’s book The Red Dean of Canterbury has been chosen by Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, as his Book of the Year in the New Statesman. The book was written and researched over a 5 year period by Professor Butler, who is Emeritus Professor of Health Services Studies, about Hewlett Johnson, Dean of Canterbury Cathedral from 1931-1963. John intensively worked through and analysed the Red Dean’s papers, which are held in Special Collections, to create an intimate picture of a man who was infamous in his time for his unswerving and vocal support of Communist regimes, including Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China and Castro’s Cuba.

Dr. Williams describes the communist Dean as ‘champion of Stalin and thorn in the flesh of successive archbishops’ and draws out an important question when considering Johnson’s life: was he simply naive or did he willingly blind himself to the realities of Stalin’s regime? The Archbioshop praises John’s work as offering ‘finely nuanced picture’ of Hewlett Johnson ‘using lots of hitherto unquarried sources’.

Once again, Hewlett Johnson has been drawn onto the world stage and I hope that this will bring people to consider the legacy of the unusual but largely forgotten Dean.

To learn more about Hewlett Johnson and the collection of his papers, have a look at our website.

If you would like to look at any items in the collections, please contact us.

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