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Thompson, Edward Palmer (1924–93)


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


English historian and socialist intellectual. While teaching in adult education he produced a major study of William Morris and his politics (1955). His celebrated and influential The Making of the English Working Class ( 1963 ) drew on wideranging scholarship in analyzing the formation of C lass and class consciousness through work, religion, popular customs, and political activity. Thompson's work consistently stressed the power of human agency, and also distinctively English traditions of thought and practice. Moving from the Communist Party to help found the N ew Left in 1967, he engaged ever more combatively with French structuralist accounts of Marxist theory. Prolific historical writing (for example, Whigs and Hunters , 1975) and editing (The Unknown Mayhew , 1971) appeared alongside vigorous and distinctive interventions in political and intellectual debates. His force and skill as a polemicist were increasingly evident in assaults upon business management practice in universities ( Warwick University Limited , 1970) and on left theoreticism ( The Poverty of Theory , 1978), then in speeches, articles, and books connected with campaigns for nuclear disarmament (for example, The Heavy Dancers , 1985). A book on Blake, published posthumously, again vividly located an English author, in enormous detail, within the social world and political traditions of his time. 1990 ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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