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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

by Robert Tressell

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Book Description
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists tells the story of a group of working men who are joined one day by Owen, a journeyman-prophet with a vision of a just society. Owen's spirited attacks on the greed and dishonesty of the capitalist system rouse his fellow men from their political quietism. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is both a masterpiece of wit and political passion and one of the most authentic novels of English working class life ever written

From the Publisher
'The first great English novel about the class war, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is spiked, witty, humorous, instructive and full of excitement, harmony and pathos.' - ALAN SILLITOE

'Some books seem to batter their way to immortality against all the odds, by sheer brute artistic strength, and high up in this curious and honourable company must be counted The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Robert Tressell's unfailing humour mixes with an unfailing rage and the two together make a truly Swiftian impact.' - MICHAEL FOOT, Evening Standard

'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a wonderful book. Its wonder comes from the raciness of its story and the passionate ethics that emerge.' - City Limits

'Robert Tressell has complete familiarity with the idiom of his characters. His language is bizarre, vital, highly inventive and precisely heard - it is a complete and living archaeology of the speech of a particular human group. A brilliant and very funny book.' - Spectator

'A torch to pass from generation to generation.' TONY BENN

About the Author
Robert Tressell was the pseudonym of Robert Noonan, an Irish housepainter, who came to England from South Africa at the turn of the century. With his daughter Kathleen and his sister Adelaide, he settled in Hastings, where he worked as a signwriter for various building firms. Tressell played a large part in local politics, joining the Social Democratic Federation (one of the forerunners of the Labour Party), and was often to be seen preaching the word from a soapbox on Hastings beach. His experience of English working life and his subsequent political awakening were to provide the material for The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, his one and only novel. Tressell intended the book to be a 'socialist documentary' based on real people and real events, a work which he hoped would convert his fellow workers to the creed. However, Tressell never lived to see his book in print: his manuscript was rejected by several publishers and, dispirited and disillusioned, he decided to emigrate to Canada in 1910. Unfortunately, Tressell was taken ill en route in Liverpool and died from TB the following year, aged forty. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists was published three years later.



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