Guide to Communist Biographies
Read individual Communist Biographies in this section of this site, covered in hundreds and hundreds of thousands of words! Work on newly researched biographies is on-going and suggestions, new information, additions, corrections, and queries from readers are always welcome. Reminiscences that readers have are particularly interesting. Use the contact me tab to get in touch.
“Man’s dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying, he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world – the fight for the Liberation of Mankind.” Nicolai Ovstrovsky, “How the steel was tempered”
This is a rather esoteric collection of life sketches of members of the British Communist Party and, for reasons of history, the Communist Party of Ireland. No special objective has been applied to selecting names; rather they constitute a selection from a file of a large number of life stories garnered by myself over some decades from obituaries, biographies and memoirs. These were collected to satisfy my interest in the personalities of Party history and a wistful feeling that one day I would in some way help to retain their memories.
This web project is, as they say, a work in progress. Other, largely academic, initiatives have focused on Communist biographies but I despair at the lack of sympathy and understanding showed. Some academics seem to view Communist lives with less understanding than ornithologists might their particular subjects! I therefore feel there is some value in a public airing of the details of these remarkable lives in a compendium of this nature, which can be a resource to the wider world.
I have applied no sectarian exclusion. By no means all stayed with the Party so inclusion is only justified by a period of significant membership. Although there is an emphasis on history, being dead is not an obligatory requirement! The passage of time and the growth of new generations makes even those who were active 30 or 40 years ago now part of history. The relatively famous and the not so famous, the unsung and the glamourous, are included.
The source of the material is credited where this was noted by me at the time of collection, although in most cases the sources for multiple facts are heavily varied, sometimes making sourcing pointless.
The only observation I make is that it is evident that the British and Irish Communist Parties attracted an extraordinary range of talented individuals. If the collection does no more than further an understanding that such individuals were by no means psychologically flawed, a theory beloved of cold war warriors and often seemingly furthered by supposedly sympathetic academics with their fondness for tittle-tattle, then some purpose is served.
My thanks to the many collaborators who have submitted their own entries and these are usually provided with a by-line; all entries without a name are my own responsibility in their entirety.