February 15, 2012
Hail & Farewell: Ronald Fraser
by Kelly Burdick
The English historian Ronald Fraser has died. He was the author of a number of books on Spanish history including In Search of a Past and In Hiding, which Arthur Miller reviewed in the New York Times, calling it “So brief and yet so complete, so movingly human.” In Hiding tells the story of Manuel Cortés, a barber who supported Spain’s Popular Font and eventually became the mayor his small town. After Franco came to power, he spent thirty years hiding in his house to escape execution.
In addition to his books, Fraser was instrumental in the founding of the New Left Review and Verso Books and also served as a member of its New Left Trust. According to a statement by Tariq Ali, “Ronnie played a huge part in helping to establish, first New Left Review (as its Business Manager in 1963) and later New Left Books, the parent company of Verso in 1969. Till the very end he kept a watchful, if distant, eye on both institutions…. The existence of both New Left Review and Verso owes a great deal to his business skills at a time when left intellectuals regarded money matters as ‘vulgar’ and not worth too much thought.”
Kelly Burdick is the former executive editor of Melville House.