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The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists - TRESSELL, Robert - 1914. 
London, Grant Richards Ltd.,  - Octavo. Original black cloth, titles to spine and front board gilt. With the printed dust jacket. Housed in a green quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery, Light partial toning to endpapers, some minor foxing to a couple of leaves, spine lightly creased with tips a little bumped, a lovely copy in the spine tanned dust jacket with a couple of minor nicks. First edition, first impression, of this classic of English working class fiction, often compared with Zola's Germinal. Robert Philippe Noonan (18701911) was the illegitimate son of an inspector in the Royal Irish Constabulary. He settled in South Africa for ten years, where he helped found the Irish Brigade, which fought against Britain in the Anglo-Boer War, with John McBride and Arthur Griffiths. However, he left in 1899 before hostilities broke out and settled in Hastings. "Working in the building trade at subsistence wages, he contracted tuberculosis, was influenced by socialist writers such as Robert Blatchford, and became an active member of the unusually large Hastings branch of the Social Democratic Federation, whose banner he painted. He spent his spare time during the last ten years of his life writing by hand the 1800-page manuscript of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, which brought posthumous fame" (ODNB). He died in the Royal Infirmary in Liverpool; having set out to start a new life in Canada he got no further, was taken seriously ill, spent time in the workhouse, and "was buried in a pauper's grave in the city's Walton Park cemetery." Kathleen, his orphaned daughter, sold the manuscript to Grant Richards for £25. The publisher described it as, this "damnably subversive, but extraordinarily real" novel, Alan Sillitoe subsequently called it "The first great English novel about the class war", and Michael Foot praised its "truly Swiftian impact". What is certain is the authenticity of its voice which offers "a unique view of early twentieth-century working-class life through the eyes of an articulate proletarian." Scarce, especially with the dust jacket: Grant Richards was renowned for only doing small print runs. Although the title page of the manuscript is clearly signed Tressell (which was how Noonan wrote the word for a painter's trestle in his manuscript), for some unknown reason the author's name was printed as Tressall in this first edition and in the Grant Richards abridged cheap edition of 1918. [Attributes: First Edition]
[Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
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