WWII: Upper class protected British fascist leader Mosley, whilst supposedly fighting fascism

The Second World War in Europe is often presented as a war against fascism though this is conflated with a war against the nations of Germany and Italy and by default with Germans and Italians. The VE day celebrations today will be presented as those of a nation united against the Nazis. However, numerous anti-fascist Germans or Italians were interned in poor conditions in the UK whilst the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley, although interned, was better treated and released early. Upon the […]

A brief note about John Addington Symonds

I have been interested, for some time now, in the writings of John Addington Symonds (1840-1893) mainly because of my researches into the legal censoring and subsequent bibliographical history of Volumes 1 and 2 of Havelock Ellis’s six volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex [Studies]. Symonds collaborated with Ellis on Sexual Inversion (homosexuality), which was originally Volume 1 of Studies and that volume is now considered an important if not foundational text in the early history of […]

Set the people free – opposition to ID cards [postponed til further notice]

David King will outline how during the Second World War the government introduced compulsory ID cards as part of their emergency measures. It was not until seven years after the War that ID cards were finally withdrawn. Clarence Willcock was instrumental in this process; his refusal to show his ID card when stopped by the police in North London in 1950 raised questions about their use in peacetime Britain and contributed to the withdrawal of the cards in 1952. David King's talk will be followed […]

The Rise and Resistible fall of the NHS [postponed until further notice]

or NHS: Going, going, gone! or There is no God, bless the NHS

Since 2014 the Cartoon Action Theatre (CAT) have been performing short plays on the street and at events using a modern rhyming mummers' style, covering a diverse range of subjects including austerity, media bias, the arms trade, benefit sanctions, fracking, 'free trade' deals, the banksters, refugees, bus cuts and climate change. At this year's radical history festival they will be launching their new play on the creation of the National Health Service. CAT have also recently published a DIY […]

The Battle for China’s Past: Mao and The Cultural Revolution

By Mobo Gao
This 2008 book is a significant contribution to an ongoing process whereby Chinese radicals are reappraising dominant narratives on revolutionary China and in particular on the ‘Cultural Revolution’ (CR) period of 1966-76, thereby challenging the official Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dismissive verdict over Mao’s later policies and the so-called ‘Gang of Four’. While most of us on ‘The Left’ in the West know a fair bit about the 1917 Russian Revolution for example, our knowledge of China’s […]

Struggle or Starve: Working-Class Unity in Belfast’s 1932 Outdoor Relief Riots

By Seán Mitchell
Struggle or Starve is a compelling account of the 1932 Outdoor Relief riots in Belfast, an episode of widespread working-class unity while engaged in militant struggle that is often airbrushed over in favour of the more typical focus on Northern Ireland’s sectarian politics. Seán Mitchell is however a socialist from West Belfast who has finally given this unique event the historical study it has long deserved but not received. The period under study in fact extends from the working-class of […]

Age of Adversity

Life in the Times of the Black Death in the City of Bristol, England. 1348-1349, and Beyond

‘Alas when our relatives and neighbours came to welcome us, whole we were embracing them and in the midst of our kisses, we, who carried the arrows of death were constrained to give them the poison, so that when they returned home, soon whole families were infected and in less than three days succumbed to the attacks’. Although there appears to be very few primary sources recounting the consequences and changes inflicted upon the population of Bristol during the era of the Black Death a few rare […]

Angela Carter’s ‘Provincial Bohemia’

The counterculture in 1960s and 1970s Bristol and Bath

Front cover with a portrait of Angela Carter
Socialist and feminist novelist Angela Carter is one of the most acclaimed late-twentieth-century English writers, famous for short-story collections such as The Bloody Chamber and novels including Nights at the Circus and Wise Children. Angela Carter’s ‘Provincial Bohemia’ takes Carter’s life and work in Bristol (1961-1969) and Bath (1973-1976) as a starting point to explore the artistic, radical and experimental communities that flourished at that time. Newly recorded interviews and other […]

Stolen Paradise [postponed until further notice]

The post-war squatting movement in Bristol

During the summer of 1946, thousands of British families took the law into their own hands to temporarily solve their housing problems by "requisitioning" empty military camps. This mass-squatting movement was rapid, spontaneous and entirely working-class in character. While it was often driven at ground level by women, the movement soon developed a formal leadership structure dominated by ex-servicemen who had served as NCOs and warrant officers. Bristol, with particularly acute housing […]