It is with great sadness that we report the unexpected death of our chairman W. A. Speck.
He passed away on the 16th February 2017
The funeral is at Carlisle Crematorium at 1.40pm on the 7th of March and afterwards at Vallum House Hotel
Bill came to Lewes, I think it was in 2011, to find out more about Thomas Paine, the time that Paine spent in Lewes. He had been asked to write a Political Biography of Thomas Paine by Pickering and Chatto. He contacted me as I had published a small local book about Thomas Paine in Lewes and we shared information about our research ever since. I was fortunate to call Bill my friend. We connected immediately over Paine research but found that we could get on well together. I suspect Bill had a lot of friends like this, he had such an easy charm. He wore his consummate knowledge about 17th and 18th British and American history very lightly. But it quickly became apparent to me that his knowledge was deep and wide, and that he was generous and unassuming with it. He was respectful of the local research that had been conducted in Lewes by myself and others, and acknowledged us in the finished work.
Bill came onto the committee of the national Thomas Paine Society soon after our meet and has been a central figure in reshaping the society to become a learning resource. The society had largely achieved the aim of promoting awareness of Thomas Paine in the UK. Melvyn Bragg’s documentary about Paine’s life was aired twice on prime time BBC 2 and is now available as a low cost download in the BBC website. The society contributed to this documentary in Thetford and Lewes and by making resources available. Melvyn Bragg became our honorary president after the airing.
We had since worked together to establish a Journal of Radical History, hopefully to be published by Taylor and Francis, to replace our own small journal which our member Robert Morell had just retired from editing. It is in this way we hope to deliver Bill’s legacy in a way, a living legacy of enquiry for students all over the world to contribute to.
And this was at the core of Bill, a genuinely enquiring mind, operating at the highest level. It was indeed a honour and a pleasure to be able to talk, usually once a week, and spent a significant amount of time with him. We had so much fun together!
I certainly will miss Bill, as I am sure that anyone who was privileged to come within his sphere will. My heart goes out to his family. And I know all of us on the committee of the Thomas Paine Society feel this way.
by Paul Myles: Treasurer
Heartfelt condolences also from:
Prof. Richard Whatmore: Acting chairman
David Ward: Secretary
Kathy Myles: Membership secretary
Committee members of the Thomas Paine Society UK
Common Sense Club
in association with
Thetford Grammar School
presented a talk on
The Man from Thetford
The story of the Thomas Paine Statue
by author and travel writer
Friday 11th November 2016
Old School, Thetford Grammar School, Bridge Street, Thetford, IP24 3AF
Free entry, all welcome
The Most Valuable Englishman EVER! see this famous documentary by Kenneth Griffith here
Also a report from Bill Speck on another celebration dinner in Leeds at which in excess of 40 attended:
" The Ford - Maguire Society held a dinner at Fairuz's Lebanese restaurant in Leeds on Thursday 29 January to celebrate Tom Paine's birthday. Over forty people attended, including Paul Myles, acting chairman of the Thomas Paine Society, who proposed a toast, one of several to Paine's memory during the course of a very convivial evening."
Mayor of Lewes Dr Mike Turner and Paul Myles of the University of St Andrews and The Thomas Paine Society UK with their publications at the Chateau, the venue for the lecture on Thomas paine in Lewes
A major historical convention in France.
Committee Member Paul Myles presented on behalf of the Thomas Paine Society and as a doctoral student at the University of St Andrews on the 11th of October at the prestigious event of Les Rebelles the 17th Rendez Vous De L'Histoire at Blois in France.
Our venue was packed full, which was surprising as the Prime Minister of France, Manual Valls was talking just down the road at the same time!
Documentary Alert !!!!!
Melvyn Bragg’s Radical Lives: Rights of Man – Thomas Paine
Melvyn Bragg tells the remarkable story of Thomas Paine, the 18-century English radical writer who wrote three of the best-selling political essays of all time: Common Sense, Rights of Man and The Age of Reason. His books changed the world and helped shape modern democracy. He lit the fuse for the American Revolution, was an active participant in the French Revolution and laid the foundation for political reform in Britain.
In this film Melvyn travels from Norfolk to Philadelphia, New York to Paris as he follows in the footsteps of one of the great champions of democracy and human rights – Along the way, he explains how the freedoms we all enjoy grew out of 18- century Enlightenment thinking and were given popular voice in the works of Thomas Paine.
Thomas Paine returns to his old school in Thetford !
Click here for the full story To Begin the World Over Again: the Life of Thomas Paine
Sat 3 May 2014, 19.00
At Conway Hall London
Tickets Advance: £10 (plus booking fee), Concs. £5
Admission £15/£7 on the door.
Doors 18.30. Start 19.00
Ian Ruskin (writer/actor) trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and currently lives in Los Angeles, CA. He has performed his other one man play From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks about labour leader Harry Bridges well over 200 times. The film version, directed by Haskell Wexler, has aired in America on PBS for the past 4 years. This is the London première of To Begin the World Over Again: the Life of Thomas Paine which has been performed just over 30 times in the past two years.
“Ruskin’s Paine provides more than a mere history lesson; it’s a sort of performance art. Not only do we learn of a largely untold slice of the American story, we also get to see an actor in top form. So nuanced and layered is Ruskin’s performance, and so enlightening is his script, it’s as if Paine has been brought to back life just to speak to us”.
Pictured are Ricky Groves the former Eastenders actor, Gez Chetal owner of the Thomas Paine Hotel, Stuart Wright Mayor of Thetford and David Ward of Thetford who has lent some of his Thomas Paine ephemera for display at the hotel. The recent evening marked the opening of the hotel's restaurant as Franklin's Brasserie.
Saturday 8th June 2013
11am Meet at Old School, Thetford Grammar School - (Old School open from 10.30)
Talk on The Thomas Paine Society and its role in the last 50 years
Walk to Thomas Paine Statue
12 noon Meet at Thomas Paine Statue for laying of a floral tribute
12.30pm Lunch at Thomas Paine Hotel
Meet at The Small Court, Thetford Guildhall
Recent research findings Paul Myles
Paine today and the future Chad Goodwin
Close of proceedings
There was a Republic vs Royalist debate at a crowded event at the Dome Pavilion in Brighton on the 27th of November.
Over 160 people attended the Sussex Salon Series debate
An electronic vote revealed that 75% of the audience were in favour of the UK without a monarch.
Thomas Paine committee member Paul Myles represented our society, Graham Smith CEO, Republic, Prof Richard Whatmore, director of the University of Sussex Centre for Intellectual History and Rafe Heydel-Mankoo, ResPublica
A lively debate indeed , Rafe calling for reform of the upper house whilst retaining the monarchy, the position of Graham Smith was unambiguously republican, Myles argued for a bottom up process of secularity and voter franchisment and Richard Whatmore lent gravitas and knowledge of republican struggles, and pointed out that Europe was the main issue.
Dr Ruth Woodfield, Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange for The School of Law, Politics and Sociology, is organising the Sussex Salon Series in conjunction with Brighton Festival Offices.