In this blog-post, I would like to share some of the insights about the book's history that I now have thanks to reading Ian Hernon's admirable biography of Robert Noonan - Robert Tressell: A Life in Hell (2015). Hernon's Introduction conveys very well the impact of the book in its different versions on the British Labour movement. Listen to the opinions of these left-wing names:
- Eric Heffer (MP) - 'It had a profound influence. For the first time it showed what the world of work was really like and how the workers were exploited. It influenced generations of socialists and trade unionists.'
- Margaret Drabble (novelist) - 'The classic text of the Labour movement exposing the widespread hypocrisy and corruption inherent in rampant capitalism.'
- Raphael Samuel (academic) - 'Socialism's one serious contribution to English literature.'
- John Nettleton (Liverpool activist) - 'It's a common saying in Liverpool socialist circles that for every person brought into the movement by Marx, there's 10 brought in by Robert Tressell.'
|Robert Noonan and Kathleen - studio portrait|
|Hastings coffin-makers c.1908|
Finally, one of the best heart-stopping moments in 2018 so far for me was when Linda Camidge (Penzance Lit fest) made an online comment that ranked my own The Road to Corbyn up there with TRTP. Read them both and see whether you agree. Here's a link: press here