Born in Dulwich, London in 1903, George Thompson graduated at Cambridge. Thomson went on to become professor of Greek at Galway University before moving back to England in 1934, when he returned to King’s College, Cambridge, to lecture in Greek. He became a professor at BirminghamUniversity in 1936, the year he joined the Communist Party.
Thompson pioneered a Marxist interpretation of ancient Greek drama. His outstanding `Aeschylus and Athens’ and `Marxism and Poetry’ both won him international acclaim.
George Thomson lived for part of his life in Dublin and Galway, and became a champion of the Irish language. He first visited the BlasketIslands off the west coast of Ireland in 1923 and spent several years with the people of the islands studying their language, history and culture. He maintained a special study of the now extinct community in Ireland, in which he perceived elements of surviving cultural resonances with historical society prior to the development of private property as a means of production.
In 1951, he was the only member of the Communist Party’s Executive Committee to vote against the Party’s programme, `the British Road to Socialism’, because “the dictatorship of the proletariat was missing”. [Morning Star 9th January 1989] He also served on the Party’s Cultural Committee. The Chinese revolution of 1949 had a profound effect on him and led to differences with the British Communist Party, from which he eventually drifted. However, he never lost his political beliefs and will be remembered for his commitment to working-class education, which included giving lectures to factory workers at Birmingham’s Austin car plantHe also maintained a special affection and support for the Morning Star in his later years. Thompson died at his Birmingham home on February 3rd 1987, aged 83.
Sources: Morning Star 5th February 1987 and other material