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E.P.Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class 50 years on

Fri, 25 Oct 2013 12:31:00 BST

Society for the Study of Labour History’s special conference in Thompson’s hometown of Halifax – 16 November, 2013

E. P. Thompson with his wife Dorothy ONE of the most celebrated works of social and political history ever written – The Making of the English Working Class, by E. P. Thompson (pictured here with his wife Dorothy) – was published 50 years ago, in November 1963.  Its half-century is to be commemorated at a special conference held in Halifax and organised by the Society for the Study of Labour History (SSLH), whose President is the University of Huddersfield’s Professor Keith Laybourn

‌‌The SSLH event will be held on Saturday, 16 November, 2013 at Square Chapel, in the town, Halifax, where E. P. Thompson lived and worked as a lecturer when he researched and wrote his epic work, which has sold hundreds of thousands of copies. 

The Making of the English Working Class, by E. P. Thompson book cover The conference, which begins at 10am, is open and free to all.  It features lectures and round-table talks involving leading figures in the field of labour history.  The keynote address is by Professor Bryan Palmer, of Trent University, Ontario. (Pictured at the bottom of the page).

During the afternoon, Dr John Hargreaves – author of the standard work on the history of Halifax – will lead a walk to the house at Whitegates, Siddal, where Thompson and his historian wife Dorothy lived between 1948 and 1965.  A commemorative blue plaque is to be erected at the house by Halifax Civic Trust, with the support of the Society for the Study of Labour History and the Lipman-Miliband Trust.  It will be dedicated at 3.30 pm on 16 November, at a ceremony attended by the Mayor of Calderdale

‌Professor Laybourn – president of the SSLH – said that The Making of the English Working Class was still “a hallmark for scholarship and original research”. 

‌‌“E. P. Thompson wanted to show that there was a strong radical tradition in England and that up to the 1830s there was as much revolutionary potential as in France and the rest of the Continent.” 

Professor Keith Laybourn During the E. P. Thompson conference, the SSLH will hold its AGM and Professor Laybourn (pictured right) will report on his attendance at a meeting in Amsterdam to set up a European Labour History Network

The event was attended by 33 historians from throughout Europe, with Professor Laybourn as the sole UK representative. 

New links will be formed between historians across national boundaries and there are plans to hold themed conferences on aspects of labour history, with Barcelona or Vienna being likely venues for an inaugural event.

Dr Bryan Palmer - E. P. Thompson symposium Pictured: Giving the keynote address at the conference will be Professor Bryan Palmer of Trent University, Ontario, Canada.

  • ‌‌For details of the E. P. Thompson conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Making of the English Working Class and to reserve a free place, please email Dr Charlotte Alston (charlotte.alston@northumbria.ac.uk).
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