Prof. Preston and George Orwell: The varieties of historical investigation and experience

Bristol Anarchist Bookfair Radical History Zone 2011 Poster
A couple of years ago, at a gathering of the International Brigade Memorial Trust, Professor Paul Preston, describing George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, said: 'It is not a bad book but the trouble is, it is the only book many people read on the Spanish Civil War' or words to that effect. Pro. Preston suggested that 'Homage to Catalonia' was a book written about the Spanish War from the narrow perspective of someone who had only spent six or seven months involved in the conflict on a quiet […]

Do It Yourself Publishing

A panel of experienced independent publishers will discuss the ins and outs of producing history texts from short-run reprinting, running a small publishing outfit to the revival of the ‘radical history pamphlet’. So if you want to knock stuff out from broadsheets to books, come and find out how to ‘do it yourself’.

Directional Discourse and Counter-history

John Desmond’s concept of directional discourse might interest radical historians for two reasons. It incorporates the two concepts of ascending discourse and counter-history. And it has produced a by-product, the challenge: ‘Is undertaking counter-history preferable to undertaking radical history?’, which he will only have time to float. Watch this talk: If you see this text the video has failed to play. Please let us know by emailing

Doing Radical History

Recent years have seen a resurgence in ‘doing radical history’, from researching, writing and speaking to provocative recreations, media stunts and interventions in civic debates. South London Radical History group were pioneers in this process and with our own Bristol ‘mob’ will survey the ideas and experiences of the ‘new wave’.

Radical History ‘From Below’

Brecht Forum, 451 West Street (between Bank & Bethune Streets), New York, NY 10014 The 'History Workshop' movement was founded in 1966 in Ruskin College, Oxford, U.K. by the Marxist academic Raphael Samuel, a champion of 'history from below.' He famously defined this movement as being "the belief that history is or ought to be a collaborative enterprise, one in which the researcher, the archivist, the curator and the teacher, the 'do-it-yourself' enthusiast and the local historian, the […]

What Is Social History?

In a 1970 article advocating ‘social history as the history of society’, E.J.Hobsbawm concluded that it was ‘a good time to be a social historian’. ‘Even those of us who never set out to call ourselves by this name,’ he wrote, ‘will not want to disclaim it today.’ Twenty years later, Keith Wrightson recollected how it felt to be present at that dawn. ‘The past teemed with questions which had scarcely been asked, let alone answered,’ he wrote. ‘If they were considered of little significance in […]

Radical History & ‘The Commonweal’

Why History Matters... And Why Radical History Matters More - David Cullum An analysis of the nature and importance of radical history in the public domain. Commonalty and Commonweal 1381-1649 - David Rollison Beginning with the story of a heretical hermit who, in 1357, was accused of terrorizing the respectable rich peasants of Hertfordshire and the king’s Justices by rousing the labourers of the county and preaching that the Statute of Labourers was ‘blasphemy’, this paper is a discussion of […]

Hanging At Kenn & Bristol At War

The Hanging At Kenn tells of historian Steve Poole's quest for the reasons behind Britain's last public hanging to be carried out at the "scene of the crime". It happened at Kenn in North Somerset in the early 1830's. A bitter tale of the power of law and order in pre-Victorian Britain. The film will be followed by a question and answer session with Steve Poole. Not in World War II but Bristol in the English Civil War (Revolution). Bristol At War follows Professor Ronald Hutton's search to […]

The Sealed Knot Q&A

Who are you and what on Earth are you doing? We are members of the Blew Regiment which in turn is part of the Parliament Army of the Sealed Knot, a society of several thousand members which re-enacts battles of the English Civil War. Where are you from? We have members from the north of England, Devon, Bristol, Essex, Kent and even the Channel Islands as well as all points in-between. When and where does it happen? As a rough guide battles and events are held on a number of weekends from Easter […]

Bristol Radical History Week 2006 Final Report

Introduction Bristol Radical History Week comprised 31 events over 9 days in 7 different venues in the city centre. The objective of the week was to: Open up some of the ‘hidden’ history of Bristol to the public scrutiny and challenge some ‘commonly’ held ideas about historical events in the Bristol’s past. Approach this history from ‘below’, to examine the actions of the crowd, dissenters and revolutionaries as the ‘subject’ of history. Recognise that the history of Bristol is inexorably linked […]