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When Thomas Paine met Thomas Paine

PUBLISHED: 15:50 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:50 22 May 2019

The two Toms: Ian Ruskin and Diss Museum manager Basil Abbott also in custome as Thomas Paine in Beehive Yard. Picture: Diss Museum

The two Toms: Ian Ruskin and Diss Museum manager Basil Abbott also in custome as Thomas Paine in Beehive Yard. Picture: Diss Museum

Archant

He is one of Norfolk's most famous sons but it was a case of seeing double as two Thomas Paine's came face-to-face in Diss.

The recent staging of Ian Ruskin's one-man play, Thomas Paine's To Begin the World Over Again, brought his story back to Diss

The evening before the Corn Hall performance, Mr Ruskin also appeared in a celebration organised by Diss Museum of Paine's links to the town at Beehive Yard in Denmark Street where he spent a year working as a staymaker for a Mr Gudgeon.

Two Tom Paines appeared together in Beehive Yard Mr Ruskin was joined by Diss Museum's Basil Abbott, also in custome, who gave a talk and readings, with Gill Partridge as Mrs Gudgeon, wife of Paine's employer, and Len Furst as Ben Franklin.

The event included more entertainment at St Mary's Hall and food with an 18th century theme, and Ron Ross playing some period airs on the melodeon.

Review: Thomas Paine story at Diss Corn Hall

The equal rights champion was born in 1737 and left Thetford when he was 19. He went on to pen the 18th century's three best-selling books including Rights of Man, and gave strong support to the French Revolution.

Having emigrated to America, Paine's 1776 pamphlet Common Sense is said to have swung American popular opinion in favour of independence from Britain.

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