‘One of the most extraordinary revelations that has been made in the guise of fiction’
‘I have given this book to many, many people in the course of my life and all the recipients have been as inspired by it as I have been … Robert Tressell, through the voice of Frank Owen, is addressing us with arguments that are just as relevant now as they were when he first used them a century ago. If we want to make progress we have to do it ourselves and believe it can be done.’
– Tony Benn, The Guardian
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a classic novel of humour and sharply observed characterisation,. It is also the first truly imaginative portrayal of life written from a working-class perspective, and is an important early-twentieth-century passionate defence of socialist ideals.
The story of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists follows a year in the life of a group of painters and decorators, and is set in the town of Mugsborough at the turn of the century. Haunted by fears of unemployment, the men struggle to keep their jobs at any cost. But, in the course of events, and faced with the cruelty and corruption of the establishment, some of the men begin to realise that their condition of miserable poverty is neither ‘natural’ nor ‘just’.
Recently voted ‘most influential book’ in a survey of Labour MPs in the New Statesman