The Independent Magazine for Freemasons
By: Paul Calderwood
Paul Calderwood received his PhD for his thesis on ‘The history of Freemasonry and the Press in Twentieth-century Britain’, which led to this excellent book and in turn to his 2013 Prestonian Lecture: As we were seen: Freemasonry and the Press and to the article of the same name found elsewhere in this issue.
The book examines how the public image of Freemasonry has changed from a highly-respected, élite organisation at the centre of public life in 1900 - when the public’s perception of Freemasonry was much more benevolent, with numerous establishment figures, including monarchs, government ministers, archbishops and civic worthies, enthusiastically recommending Freemasonry as the key to model citizenship - to a position in the 1990s, when it was regarded by many people with suspicion and disapproval and viewed with deep mistrust by the press and wider society.
For almost forty years the media projected a positive message of Freemasonry, before a radical change occurred in the public mood during the last part of the twentieth century. The book argues that this was due primarily to Freemasonry becoming less open with the public in general, and to a lack of involvement with the press in particular.
Given the price and the nature of the book, it is unlikely to appeal to the general Masonic reader. However, to the serious Masonic scholar and those interested in the wider social history of modern Britain, it is an absolute goldmine as a source of material. As might be expected of a book based on a PhD thesis it is meticulously researched; the fourteen appendices and the bibliography are fascinating and well worth studying in their own right.
ISBN: 978 1 4094 5433 5