I promised I would report when my review of Stephen Yeo’s new book on George Jacon Holyoake had appeared in Co-op News. It has: it’s here.
And talking of new publications, I can’t resist mentioning that my own Back Roads through Middle England is out this week. Published by Britain’s first author-run publishing co-op, too: Gritstone Publishing.
Christmas present ideas, anyone?
History is important, I think.
Stephen Yeo, one of our most eminent social historians, has just brought out a new book on the nineteenth century co-operative pioneer George Jacob Holyoake (1817-1906) which I’ve been reading over the past few days in order to review it for Co-op News.
Stephen titles his book (the first of a series of three exploring bottom-up co-operation and socialism in the last two centuries) A Useable Past? And that is indeed exactly the motivation which has led him to return to the life and the (very extensive) works of Holyoake. Stephen is suggesting that there is something to be taken from the ‘associationism-socialism’ and moral impulses of Holyoake, and more generally of early co-operation in Britain, which is directly relevant today in rebuilding our radical traditions, particularly in terms of a do-it-yourself, non-statist form of social change.
My review has been emailed off to Anthony Murray at Co-op News, and I understand it is likely to appear in the September issue. I’ll tell you here when it is published.
For about sixty years in the nineteenth and early twentieth century George Jacob Holyoake was an important figure in the British cooperative movement. It’s no coincidence that Co-operatives UK’s head office in Manchester is in a building named Holyoake House.
Holyoake was, among much else, a journalist and writer. When I was researching my book All Our Own Work last year, I burrowed away in the British Library reading several of his writings, including his account of the Rochdale Pioneers. I needn’t have bothered going to Euston Road. Gillian Lonergan, the archivist at the National Co-operative Archive, has drawn my attention to an excellent website where most of Holyoake’s key books on the early coop movement have been digitised, as well as his autobiography (it has the great title Sixty Years of an Agitator’s Life).
You’ll find the website here.