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Authors: C. P. Snow

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Time of Hope



Copyright & Information

Time of Hope


First published in 1949

© Philip Snow; House of Stratus 1949-2010


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.


The right of C.P. Snow to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.


This edition published in 2010 by House of Stratus, an imprint of

Stratus Books Ltd., Lisandra House, Fore Street, Looe,

Cornwall, PL13 1AD, UK.


Typeset by House of Stratus.


A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library and the Library of Congress.


ISBN: 0755120205   EAN 9780755120208




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This is a fictional work and all characters are drawn from the author’s imagination.

Any resemblance or similarities to persons either living or dead are entirely coincidental.



About the Author


Charles Percy Snow was born in Leicester, on 15 October 1905. He was educated from age eleven at Alderman Newton’s School for boys where he excelled in most subjects, enjoying a reputation for an astounding memory and also developed a lifelong love of cricket. In 1923 he became an external student in science of London University, as the local college he attended in Leicester had no science department. At the same time he read widely and gained practical experience by working as a laboratory assistant at Newton’s to gain the necessary practical experience needed.

Having achieved a first class degree, followed by a Master of Science he won a studentship in 1928 which he used to research at the famous Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. There, he went on to become a Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge, in 1930 where he also served as a tutor, but his position became increasingly titular as he branched into other areas of activity. In 1934, he began to publish scientific articles in
, and then
The Spectator
before becoming editor of the journal
in 1937. However, he was also writing fiction during this period, with his first novel
Death Under Sail
published in 1932, and in 1940
ȁStrangers and Brothers’
was published. This was the first of eleven novels in the series and was later renamed
‘George Passant’
‘Strangers and Brothers’
was used to denote the series itself.

became a casualty of the war, closing in 1940. However, by this time Snow was already involved with the Royal Society, who had organised a group to specifically use British scientific talent operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour. He served as the Ministry’s technical director from 1940 to 1944. After the war, he became a civil service commissioner responsible for recruiting scientists to work for the government. He also returned to writing, continuing the
Strangers and Brothers
series of novels.
‘The Light and the Dark’
was published in 1947, followed by
‘Time of Hope’
in 1949, and perhaps the most famous and popular of them all, ‘
The Masters’
, in 1951. He planned to finish the cycle within five years, but the final novel
‘Last Things’
wasn’t published until 1970.

He married the novelist Pamela Hansford Johnson in 1950 and they had one son, Philip, in 1952. Snow was knighted in 1957 and became a life peer in 1964, taking the title Baron Snow of the City Leicester. He also joined Harold Wilson’s first government as Parliamentary Secretary to the new Minister of Technology. When the department ceased to exist in 1966 he became a vociferous back-bencher in the House of Lords.

After finishing the
Strangers and Brothers
series, Snow continued writing both fiction and non-fiction. His last work of fiction was ‘
A Coat of Vanish’,
published in 1978. His non-fiction included a short life of
published in 1974 and another, published posthumously in 1981, ‘
The Physicists
a Generation that Changed the World’
. He was also inundated with lecturing requests and offers of honorary doctorates. In 1961, he became Rector of St. Andrews University and for ten years also wrote influential weekly reviews for the
Financial Times.

In these later years, Snow suffered from poor health although he continued to travel and lecture. He also remained active as a writer and critic until hospitalized on 1 July 1980. He died later that day of a perforated ulcer.



‘Mr Snow has established himself, on his own chosen ground, in an eminent and conspicuous position among contemporary English novelists’ - New Statesman










Part One

Son and Mother




1:   Chime of a Clock


The midges were dancing over the water. Close to our hands the reeds were high and lush, and on the other side of the stream the bank ran up steeply, so that we seemed alone, alone in the hot, still, endless afternoon. We had been there all day, the whole party of us; the ground was littered with our picnic; now as the sun began to dip we had become quiet, for a party of children. We lay lazily, looking through the reeds at the glassy water. I stretched to pluck a blade of grass, the turf was rough and warm beneath the knees.

It was one of the long afternoons of childhood. I was nearly nine years old, and it was the June of 1914. It was an afternoon I should not have remembered, except for what happened to me on the way home.

It was getting late when we left the stream, climbed the bank, found ourselves back in the suburb, beside the tramlines. Down in the reeds we could make-believe that we were isolated, Camping in the wilds; but in fact, the tramlines ran by, parallel to the stream, for another mile. I went home alone, tired and happy after the day in the sun. I was not in a hurry, and walked along, basking in the warm evening. The scent of the lime trees hung over the suburban street; lights were coming on in some of the houses; the red brick of the new church was roseate in the sunset glow.

At the church the street forked; to the right past the butcher’s, past a row of little houses whose front doors opened on to the pavement; to the left past the public library along the familiar road towards home. There were the houses with ‘entries’ leading to their back doors, and the neat, minute gardens in front. There was my aunt’s house, with the BUILDER AND CONTRACTOR sign over the side gate. Then came ours: one of a pair, older than the rest of this road, three storeys instead of two, red brick like the church, shambling and in need of a coat of paint to cover the sun blisters. Round the bend from the library I could already see the jessamine in the summer twilight. I was in sight of home. Then it happened. Without warning, without any kind of reason, I was seized with a sense of overwhelming dread. I was terrified that some disaster was waiting for me. In an instant, dread had pounced on me out of the dark. I was too young to have any defences. I was a child, and all misery was eternal. I could not believe that this terror would pass.

Tired as I was, I began to run frantically home. I had to find out what the premonition meant. It seemed to have come from nowhere; I could not realize that there might be anxiety in the air at home, that I might have picked it up. Had I heard more than I knew? As I ran; as I left behind ‘good nights’ from neighbours watering their flowers, I felt nothing but terror. I thought that my mother must be dead.

When I arrived, all looked as it always did. From the road I could see there was no light in the front-room window; that was usual, until I got back home. I went in by the back door. The blinds were drawn in the other sitting-room, and a band of light shone into the back garden; in the kitchen there was a faint radiance from the gas mantle, ready for me to turn it up. My supper was waiting on the table. I rushed through the passage in search of my mother. I burst into the lighted sitting-room. There she was. I cried out with perfect relief.

She was embarrassed to see me. Her face was handsome, anxious, vain, and imperious; that night her cheeks were flushed, her eyes bright and excited instead of, as I knew them best, keen, bold, and troubled. She was sitting at a table with two women, friends of hers who came often to the house. On the table lay three rows of cards, face upwards, and one of my mother’s friends had her finger pointing to the king of spades. But they were not playing a game – they were telling fortunes.

These séances happened whenever my mother could get her friends together. When these two, Maud and Cissie, came to tea, there would be whispers and glances of understanding. My mother would give me some pennies to buy sweets or a magazine, and they left to find a room by themselves. I was not told what they did there. My mother, proud in all ways, did not like me to know that she was extremely superstitious.

‘Have you had your supper, dear?’ she said that night. ‘It’s all ready for you on the table.’

‘I’m just showing your mother some tricks,’ said Maud, who was portly and good-natured.

‘Never mind,’ said my mother. ‘You go and have your supper. Then it’ll be your bedtime, won’t it?’

But in fact I had no particular ‘bedtime’. My mother was capable but preoccupied, my father took it for granted that she was the stronger character and never made more than a comic pretence of interfering at home; I received nothing but kindness from them: they had large, vague hopes of me, but from a very early age I was left to do much as I wanted. So after I had finished supper I came back along the passage to the empty dark front room; from the other sitting-room came a chink of light beneath the door, and the sound of whispers from my mother and her friends – their fortune-telling was always conducted in the lowest of voices.

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