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Arthur Frederick James Brown was born on November 30th 1914 in Cardiff. He went from Barry grammar school in 1932 to read greats at St John's College, Oxford, where he joined the Communist Party.
After graduation, he returned to south Wales, becoming a tutor with the Workers' Educational Asociation (WEA) in the Rhondda valley.
In 1939, he went to teach classics at Colchester Royal grammar school, returning to the post after wartime service in the RAF, which included a spell in southern Africa. There he began a study of the regional Chartist movement.
Leaving teaching to work fulltime as a WEA tutor-organiser in north Essex, he published various reference works relating to Essex archival sources.
He was a notable member of the CP’s History Group of post-war group of labour historians Although he left the Party in the 1950s, his general political views never changed. He did not join another political party and gave support to a number of campaigning bodies, including CND.
He returned to teaching, becoming, in time, head of classics at Colchester grammar, until 1974.
Brown then began a new career at the University of Essex, where he taught until 2000, retiring as senior fellow in the history department.
He published seven major books and many articles, all pioneering studies about his adopted county.
He died on March 7th 2003.
Sources: The Independent 30th May 2003; The Guardian 4th June 2003