Introducing Ida Mabel Limouzin

(Republished in edited form from my old Jack of Kent blog for International Women’s Day.)

 

 

 

 

Let me introduce you to Ida Mabel Limouzin.

You will like her.

 

She was born in 1875 and grew up in Burma in the port of Moulmein, where her French family had conducted business since the British annexation in 1826.

The Limouzins were a well-regarded family with wide commercial interests; they even had a street named after them.  One family member remembered that the head of the family “lived like a prince”.

Ms. Limouzin was attractive – slender with striking eyes and thick wavy hair – and highly independent.

According to one author, she was certainly a “more lively, unconventional, widely-read and in every way a more interesting person” than the dullard she ended up marrying.

She insisted on a separate bedroom to the dullard.  When seen together she seemed to others to be faintly dismissive of him.  The evidence suggests she only married him on the rebound.

When she brought her young family to England – the dullard was sent off to work in India for years and so played no real part in his son and daughters’ upbringing – and she mixed with Suffragettes and attended public meetings.

She often took her children with her: she was remembered by her daughter as being a mother “for outings”.

The house was full of fanciful objects, and she had a passion for art and photography.

In essence, Ms. Limouzin was a bohemian at the turn of the twentieth century, but one devoted to her young children.

 

Her son grew up to be famous.

You can see him as the baby in the photograph above.

Her son was George Orwell.

And when one looks at George Orwell from his mother’s perspective, a great deal seems to make sense.

 

One is no longer trying to explain why the Eton schoolboy decided not to go to university but went to Burma and then Paris instead.

After all, from his mother’s side Orwell was Franco-Burmese in the first place.

We can also perhaps see where his independence of mind and unreadiness to conform came from.

(Indeed even at Eton he was distinctive.  He was known as “the college atheist” and he read books which surprised his teachers and friends.  Regarding Orwell just as a typical Etonian is in my view misconceived.)

But the British obsession with class and the sexist assumption that the paternal side is more significant tend to dominate Orwell scholarship.

 

As I type I have in front of me one biography of Orwell which spends six pages lovingly detailing the family and class background of the dullard fatger, including mentioning distant and titled relatives of whom Orwell was probably unaware.

The biography then deals with Ms. Limouzin in a mere couple of sentences.

I rather think it should be the other way round.

 

 

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The murder of Daniel Morgan

I have recently become interested in the case of Daniel Morgan, who was killed in March 1987.

 

Morgan worked as a private investigator.  His business partner was Jonathan Rees, who later became one of the main private investigators used by Fleet Street.  Rees was first arrested in connection with the murder in 1987; and in March 2011 he was acquitted of the murder when a trial collapsed at the Old Bailey.

 

The original police investigation into the death of Morgan was worse than desultory; it was undoubtedly corrupt.   There were then a number of inquiries and case reviews, none of which ended with a successful prosecution.  Over 25 years the case smacked of police corruption and systemic failure.  In this way, the case is akin to that of Stephen Lawrence.

 

Recently the case came back into the news because of an incident in 2002-3 when the police officer commanding the investigation and his wife, a presenter of Crimewatch, were subjected to surveillance by the News of the World, with whom Rees had close connections.   The wife was Jacqui Hames, and yesterday she gave sensational evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.  She alleged that the News of the World allowed its resources to be used so as to frustrate the murder investigation, which was still then ongoing.  This alllegation brings the Morgan case within the remit of module 2 of the Leveson Inquiry, on “press and police”.  The Leveson Inquiry may well follow it up.

 

My first post on the murder of Daniel Morgan was today at the New Statesman, and it deals with that significant allegation of Hames.  Also today, Tom Watson MP in an adjournment debate managed to get the government to order a full forensic review and to keep open the prospect of a proper judicial inquiry.

 

For 25 years the family of Daniel Morgan have campaigned for justice.  Their website is here and their fine campaign can also be followed on Twitter.

 

New Website!

I have finally got my own website!

 

My intention is to use this new website for blogging as well as for creating detailed resource pages on issues I write about (including BCA v Simon Singh, TwitterJokeTrial, NightJack, Johann Hari, phone and computer hacking, libel and privacy law, and so on).  I will also use this website for linking to my writing elsewhere (mainly at the New Statesman and The Lawyer), and for links to my podcasting (especially Without Prejudice) and activism (usually through Westminster Skeptics).

 

The old blog will remain at http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/ for now (or as long as Blogger allows), but the intention is to move most of the useful material from my posts there over here for the dedicated resource pages, which will be added to or amended over time.  These resource pages will also be open to comments.

 

It is rather strange starting an entirely new website; it has been four-and-a-half years since I started Jack of Kent on Blogger.  Any constructive comments on this website welcome; indeed, to begin with, so will any comments at all!  And bear with me, I may well make some mistakes here as I start something new.

 

Many thanks to the estimable Alan Henness for his work on setting this website up for me. I disregarded a lot of what he said, so all the faults you will notice are entirely my fault…