Blending memoir with critique, an award-winning poet and essayist’s devastating exploration of sickness and health, cancer and the cancer industry, in the modern world. A week after her 41st birthday, Anne Boyer was diagnosed with highly aggressive triple-negative breast cancer. For a single mother living payslip to payslip, the condition was both a crisis and an initiation into new ideas about mortality and the gendered politics of illness. In The Undying – at once her harrowing memoir of survival, and a 21st-century Illness as Metaphor – Boyer draws on sources from ancient Roman dream diarists to cancer vloggers to explore the experience of illness.

She investigates the quackeries, casualties and ecological costs of cancer under capitalism, and dives into the long line of women … More

Born OTD in 1883, English lawyer, soldier and politician, Clement Attlee. His government’s Keynesian approach to economic management aimed to maintain full employment, a mixed economy and a greatly enlarged system of social services provided by the state. To this end, it undertook the nationalisation of public utilities and major industries, and implemented wide-ranging social reforms, including the passing of the National Insurance Act 1946 and National Assistance Act, the foundation of the National Health Service (1948) and the enlargement of public subsidies for council house building. His government also reformed trade union legislation, working practices and children’s services; it created the National Parks system, passed the New Towns Act 1946 and established the town and country planning system.

Clement Attlee was the Labour prime minister who presided over Britain’s radical postwar government, delivering the end of the Empire … More

Born OTD in 1897, the champion of our NHS, Nye Bevan. Inspired by the Tredegar Medical Aid Society in his hometown, Bevan led the establishment of the National Health Service to provide medical care free at point-of-need to all Britons, regardless of wealth. Despite opposition from both his own and opposition parties as well as the British Medical Association, the National Health Service Act 1946 was passed, nationalising more than 2,500 hospitals within the UK.

Once elected, Labour’s Minister for Health, Nye Bevan, was tasked with leading its creation. Bevan’s background as a Welsh miner … More

Born OTD in 1896, Scottish novelist and physician, Archibald Joseph Cronin. His best-known novel is The Citadel (1937), the story of a Scottish doctor in a Welsh mining village, who quickly moves up the career ladder in London. Cronin had observed the venues closely as a medical inspector of mines and later as a doctor in Harley Street. The book promoted what were then controversial new ideas about medical ethics and helped to inspire the launch of the National Health Service.

An influential part in laying the foundation of the NHS, The Citadel is a moving story of tragedy, triumph and … More

The story of how your NHS was sold off and why you will have to buy private health insurance soon. Dr Youssef El-Gingihy a GP tells the story of how the NHS has been gradually converted into a market-based healthcare system over the past 30 years. This process was accelerated under the Coalition government and the very existence of a National Health Service is in danger.

He fears that there will not be an NHS as our generation grows old and certainly not for our children. … More

Born OTD in 1925, British pilot, politician, writer, & diarist, Tony Benn. Benn’s forward in Hastings’ much-loved writer, Robert Tressell’s novel, ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ reads: “..I have given this book to many, many people in the course of my life & all the recipents have been inspired by it as I have been. Every generation has to fight the same battles again and again, an every time it is the confidence of the campaigners that determines the speed of their success.”

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a classic representation of the impoverished and politically powerless underclass of British society in Edwardian … More

“This is not a story of a high-octane career in a pioneering surgical field; it’s not a memoir filled with blockbusting anecdotes. Instead, it is a gently remarkable book about what it means to be a nurse, what it means to care. It struck me again and again how little we hear from nurses, how quiet their voice is, how poorly represented they are on our bookshelves.”

Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, … More

Born OTD in 1923, the late great Harry Leslie Smith. Harry was an English writer and political commentator. He grew up in poverty in Yorkshire, served in the Royal Air Force in World War II, & emigrated to Canada in 1953. After retiring, Smith wrote his memoirs, and about the social history of Great Britain in the 20th century.

A survivor of the Great Depression, a Second World War veteran, a lifelong Labour supporter and a proud Yorkshire man, … More

Born OTD in 1883, English soldier, lawyer & politician, Clement Attlee. The government he led built the post-war consensus, based upon the assumption that full employment would be maintained by Keynesian policies and that a greatly enlarged system of social services would be created – aspirations that had been outlined in the 1942 Beveridge Report. Within this context, his government undertook the nationalisation of public utilities and major industries, as well as the creation of the National Health Service.

Clement Attlee was the Labour prime minister who presided over Britain’s radical postwar government, delivering the end of the Empire … More