First published OTD in 1914, The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists is a semi-biographical novel by the Irish writer Robert Tressell, published after his death from tuberculosis in 1911, about a house painter’s efforts to find work in the fictional English town of Mugsborough (based on the coastal town of Hastings) to stave off the workhouse for himself and his daughter. An explicitly political work, it is widely regarded as a classic of working-class literature.

‘The present system means joyless drudgery, semi-starvation, rags and premature death; and they vote for it and uphold it. Let … More

Over the last century the novel ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ has been credited with having more influence on the growth of the labour & trade union movement than Marx & Engels. Yet for a long time little was known about the author, a house-painter called ‘Robert Tressell.’ Ian Hernon has traced his life from Victorian Ireland & South Africa to Edwardian Hastings &, ultimately, Liverpool. It is the story of how arguably the greatest novel about the English working class sprang to life from Tressell’s bitter experience & first-hand observations. It is also the personal story of a workmate & single parent who was much-loved in life & venerated after his premature death before his masterpiece was published.

That masterpiece has particular resonance in today’s political climate of austerity and division. With a preface by Len McCluskey, General … 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

A rare book which provides insight about Tressell from a biographical point of view. Reveals more about the dramatic rescue of the church-mural now in the Hastings Museum. A man known for his humanity, this honest account seeks to dispel the confusion about Tressell’s life. There are many stories surrounding Robert Tressell, the Irish writer best known for his one & only novel, The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, which captured the minds of thousands. A man surrounded by political propaganda and rumours, this memoir seeks to dispel the fabrications & get to the truth about Tressell, a man known for his humanity. The memoir was inspired by Tressell’s daughter, Kathleen, a remarkable lady who turned up after being `dead’ for so many years.

It reveals more about her unconventional life, even exploring her interest in psychoanalysis. Amusing and at times tragic, this personal … More