Raymond Postgate, a founding member of the British Communist Party in 1920, went on to establish the Good Food Club and then, in 1950, the Good Food Guide. Raymond William Postgate (November 6, 1896 – March 29, 1971) was an English socialist journalist and editor, social historian, mystery novelist and gourmet.
Born in Cambridge, the eldest son of John Percival Postgate, a classical scholar, and Edith Allen, Postgate was educated at the Perse School, Liverpool College and St John’s College, Oxford. During World War I, he sought exemption from military service as a conscientious objector but, without the defence of a religious objection, was jailed for two weeks under the Military Service Act. While he was in prison, his sister Margaret campaigned on his behalf, in the process meeting the socialist writer and economist G. D. H. Cole, whom she subsequently married. In 1918 Postgate married Daisy Lansbury, daughter of the left-wing journalist and politician George Lansbury, and was barred from the family home (but not disinherited) by his Tory father.
From 1918, Postgate worked as a journalist on the Daily Herald, then edited by his father-in-law. In 1920 Postgate was one of the founding members of the Communist Party and left the Herald to join his colleague Francis Meynell on the staff of the weekly, The Communist. Postgate soon became its editor but he left the Party after falling out with its leadership in 1922. He returned to the Herald, then joining Lansbury on Lansbury’s Labour Weekly in 1925-27.
He was a department editor for Encyclopaedia Britannica from 1927 to 1928 and published biographies of John Wilkes and Robert Emmett and his first novel, No Ep
itaph (1932). In 1932, he visited the Soviet Union with a Fabian delegation and contributed to the collection Twelve Studies in Soviet Russia. He was a European representative for Alfred A. Knopf publishers (1929-49).
He co-authored with G. D. H. Cole The Common People (1938), a social history of Britain from the mid-18th century. Postgate was editor of the left-wing monthly Fact from 1937 to 1939 and editor of the socialist weekly Tribune from early 1940 until the end of 1941. From 1942 to 1949 Postgate worked at the Board of Trade and Ministry of Supply.
te several mystery novels that drew on his socialist beliefs to set crime, detection and punishment in a broader social and economic context. His most famous novel is Verdict of Twelve (1940), his other novels include Somebody at the Door (1943) and The Ledger Is Kept (1953). (His sister and brother-in-law, the Coles, also became a successful mystery-writing duo.) After the death of H. G. Wells, Postgate edited some revisions of the two-volume Outline of History that Wells had first published in 1920.
Always interested in food and wine, after World War II, Postgate assembled a band of volunteers to visit and report on UK restaurants. He edited the results into the Good Food Guide, first published in 1951. He continued to work as a journalist, mainly on the Co-operative movement’s Sunday paper Reynolds’ News and, during the 1950s and 1960s, published several historical works and a biography of his father-in-law, The Life of George Lansbury. Postgate’s son, Oliver became a leading creator of children’s television programmes in the UK.
John and Mary Postgate, ‘A Stomach For Dissent: The Life Of Raymond Postgate’, Keele University Press, 1994; and other material