Hobday was born on September 9th 1917, in Eastbourne, six months after the death of his father, a professional soldier. A sickly, but not unhappy, child, he enjoyed silent films and reading, not least Dickens. Though she was on a war widow’s pension, his mother found the money for a copy of the Children’s Encyclopedia, in which Charles discovered his lifelong interests in history and poetry.
He got a scholarship to the local grammar school, and another to Queen Mary College, London University. Here, the poverty of the working class in Stepney shocked him, and (already influenced by William Morris) he joined the Communist Party. He took a first-class degree in history and English, and then an MA.
He joined the Marxist Writers’ Group, where he met the poets Jack Beeching, Arnold Rattenbury, John Manifold and Jack Lindsay, and the historian Christopher Hill (some of whose books incorporate brief comments by Charles). He was also on the editorial board of the Communist literary journal `Our Time’, edited by Rickword.
Hobday moved to Bristol in 1949 and married Gwen (who had been Jack Beeching’s wife). His work involved recording contemporary India and China for Keesing’s Archives; when he retired 30 years later, two people had to be appointed to take his place.
In the mid-1950s, he became involved in New Reasoner but left the Communist Party in 1957 to join the Labour Party. In 1989 he published his well regarded life of the poet Edgell Rickword. He left the Labour Party over the Iraq war and died on March 2 2005, aged 87.
Source: Guardian March 16th 2005
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