Claud Cockburn

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Francis Claud Cockburn (April 12 1904December 15 1981) was an influential left-wing English journalist; also a novelist, short-story writer and autobiographer. His many pseudonyms include Frank Pitcairn and James Helvick.


  • He [Brendan Bracken] had been upset by my observation that a wartime Minister of Information was compelled, in the national interest, to such continuous acts of duplicity that even his natural hair must grow to resemble a wig.
    • Crossing the Line (New York: Monthly Review Press, [1958] 1960) p. 88

A Discord of Trumpets (1956)[edit]

Quotations are cited from the first US edition (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956). The UK title is In Time of Trouble.

  • A devout and serious Christian, she was often bothered by what she read of socialists because she could not, instantly and absolutely, see where they were so wrong. To her horrified ear, they kept sounding as though they had ideas rather like Christ's.
    • Pages 11-12
  • There is nothing quite so terrifying as a mad sheep.
    • Page 62
  • Someone [on the staff of The Times] had invented a game – a competition with a small prize for the winner – to see who could write the dullest headline. It had to be a genuine headline, that is to say one which was actually printed in the next morning's newspaper. I won it only once with a headline which announced: "Small Earthquake in Chile. Not many dead."
    • Page 139
    • No such headline has ever been found in The Times at the period in question (the spring and summer of 1929), though one paragraph reads "An earthquake was felt yesterday between Illapel, to the north, and Talca, to the south, in Chile. No damage was done." (August 6, 1929). Source: The Quote... Unquote Newsletter (October, 2000) pp. 2-3.
  • Since becoming a journalist I had often heard the advice to "believe nothing until it has been officially denied".
    • Page 190
  • A newspaper is always a weapon in somebody's hands.
    • Page 220
  • The hired journalist, I thought, ought to realize that he is partly in the entertainment business and partly in the advertising business – advertising either goods, or a cause, or a government. He just has to make up his mind whom he wants to entertain, and what he wants to advertise.
    • Page 220
  • Evidently there are plenty of people in journalism who have neither got what they liked nor quite grown to like what they get. They write pieces they do not much enjoy writing, for papers they totally despise, and the sad process ends by ruining their style and disintegrating their personality, two developments which in a writer cannot be separated, since his personality and style must progress or deteriorate together, like a married couple in a country where death is the only permissible divorce.
    • Pages 224-5
  • If I wrote a book about England I should call it What About Wednesday Week? which is what English people say when they are making what they believe to be an urgent appointment.
    • Page 237

External links[edit]

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