My Life's Battles

23 March 2015 - 15:57

Fighting, that is what he did Will Thorne, not just to survive but also during his work as union man. This book, one of the first real autobiographies from the perspective of someone belonging to the working class, describe the life and works of Will Thorne.

Facts from the eventful life of Thorne, facts sometimes more thrilling than fiction.

William James Thorne, as he is officially called, started working at the age of 6 in a spinning mill during 12 hours work days.  Thorne moved to London in 1882 where he started working in the gasworks, he became member of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) and worked himself up to branch secretary. Badly educated as he was, he improved his reading skills with the help of Karl Marx’s youngest daughter, Eleanor.

Eleanor Marx did not only help him brush up his literacy but also his self-confidence, which helped him to grow into one of the best  speakers of the SDF. On March 31, 1889 partly because of his eloquence he succeeded to persuade 800 workers to join the Gasworkers Union. This Union strived for a 6 day working week of 8 hours per day.

He eventually rose to become an MP and remained so for almost 40 years. Thorne was a man of the barricades and bitter strikes and contributed greatly to the rise of British socialism and the labor movement. On January 2, 1946 he died at the age of 89.

For their research the editors of this book used the Eleanor Marx archives and the Journals of the gasworkers, which are administered by the International Institute of Social History (IISH).

  • Wil Thorne, My life’s battles. Introduced and edited by John Gallow. Foreword by Paul Kenny, ISBN 9781 910448 090
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