To be published alongside our edition of Rose Macaulay’s Non-Combatants and Others: Writings Against War on 24 August 2020
Potterism is about the Potter newspaper empire, and the ways in which journalists struggled to balance the truth and what would sell, during the First World War and into the 1920s. When Jane and Johnny Potter are at Oxford they learn to despise their father’s popular newspapers, though they still end up working for the family business. But Jane is greedy, and wants more than society will let her have.
The Introduction is by Sarah Lonsdale, senior lecturer in journalism at City University London, and the author of the Introduction to Handheld Press’s best-selling edition of Rose Macaulay’s What Not (2019).
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Others in the Potter newspaper empire are drawn into Jane’s destructive little ways. Mrs Potter is a well-known romantic novelist, whose cheap novelettes appear in the shop-girls’ magazines. She has become unable to distinguish fact from fiction, and her success gives her an unhealthy estimation of her own influence. When she visits a medium to try to find the truth about the murder of her son-in-law, she wreaks terrible damage.
Arthur Gideon works for Mr Potter as an editor. He respects his employer’s honesty while he despises the populist newspapers he has to produce. His turbulent campaigning spirit, and his furious resistance to anti-Semitic attacks, make him unpopular, and becomes an unwitting target of malice.
Subtitled ‘A Tragi-Farcical Tract’, Potterism is satirical, tragic and heart-breaking. It will outrage you, and fill you with sympathy for the victims who suffer under the Potter women’s urge to write.