I want to mark a special occasion this week. The name ‘Evelyn Beatrice Hall’ has finally migrated from my frankly lousy short-term memory to my comparatively sturdy long-term one. This is significant because every time someone has misattributed the words ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it’ (including a ‘Thought For The Day’ contributor just over a week ago, the Sikh, I think), I would wrack my brain to remember the true source. I could just about recall that her pen-name was Stephen G. Tallentyre, so it wasn’t hard to Google, but still, nice to be able to summon up the name effortlessly now.

For the record, Hall wrote those words in the 1930’s, long after Voltaire’s death, describing his attitude towards criticism of his work. I don’t think I’d defend any such right ‘to the death’, but then again, I’d be happy enough to let any criticism of me stand, on any forum I run. Sadly, I know those who can’t say the same.

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