This Bibliography is the outcome of about 16 years work researching in collections and libraries (often before on-line catalogues existed); corresponding with individuals and, more recently, using the internet. I have rooted around attics, basements and garages (Bert Pearce’s garage had the biggest collection!) for many happy hours, rarely without finding anything. If more private collections turn up, I will be happy to continue searching for missed items to improve this bibliography. So please let me know of any errors and omissions. I can be contacted at:
It is divided into material by and about the Communist Party of Great Britain. While such a bibliography could never be complete, I am confident I have unearthed at least 95% of material published nationally by the CPGB, most local material and the vast majority of key books and many of the articles written about the CPGB. I have tried to see all the items listed – only very occasionally have I failed with Party publications. I have a further list of books and articles I am in the process of researching that will eventually be listed.
The proposal to publish the bibliography on-line, instead of in book form which was my original intention, has meant I have not been able to add these and the speed with which it has been prepared has meant I have not had the time to check entries as thoroughly as I would have liked, so there will be some errors of content and typography. There are a few duplications that will be removed in future. Obviously, I welcome all corrections and additions. The responsibility for all errors and the content is mine alone and not that of the Barry Amiel-Norman Melburn Trust.

There are some technical factors to do with the switch from print format to on-line version which have slightly altered the details that can be listed. Cross-references between entries have been lost - the “Comments” field sometimes contain an entry number that might be otherwise inexplicable. But there are the clear advantages of speed of access and the ability to search for keywords. Pseudonyms were originally listed in an index showing real names; these can be found in the larger list of Political Pseudonyms on my web site (

There was a much longer Introduction originally, but we have kept some key chapters such as the lovingly researched ones by Andy Croft on “The Communist Party in Literature” and Bert Hogenkamp on “Communist Party And Film” plus mine on “The CP on the Stage” and “Artists and the CP”. There may be a printed version in the future, depending on the response to this on-line one.

A key point I did discuss in the original Introduction was the danger that such a bibliography contains in its inevitable isolation of CP members from the rest of the labour movement and society in general and a concomitant danger of inflating the importance of the CP. I have included references to individuals who were in the CP for even the shortest period – thus just in the realm of literature there are references to Graham Green who may have been in the CP for one month but was hardly a key figure in the British communist movement. On the other hand, Sean O’Casey was on the board of the Daily Worker, but not a member; Rex Warner sold the Daily Worker but never actually joined so these two do not have entries. Famous figures will be found, but so will many minor or unknown ones; this “rescue” of lesser activists or members was a conscious feature of this project and the reader/user can decide for themselves how significant or otherwise any individual was to British communism or communism to that individual.

The importance of the written word for the communist movement is another area I looked at, and it is worth noting that the CP produced far more material than any other political organisation, even the Labour Party, and set up unparalleled distribution networks ranging from publishing houses, distributors, book shops, and literature secretaries for this material. Both the Marx Memorial Library and the Working Class Movement Library were closely associated with the CP. Many meetings and day schools were held to discuss particular pamphlets. A daily paper was published from 1930 onwards and there were weekly and monthly journals, both practical and theoretical. At a local level, branches and Districts published their own pamphlets and journals. And much effort went into selling material imported from the socialist countries. The belief in the written word was immeasurable, even if the realities of distributing and selling were not always equal to the task. Districts, bookshops and members were always exhorted to sell more papers and pamphlets and there are many jokes like the famous one by Alexei Sayle about unsold literature gathering dust in members’ homes.
The importance of the written legacy of the Communist Party is open to interpretation and is inevitably mixed. This bibliography lists many a dull pamphlet (in both content and style) and an even duller syllabus about that pamphlet, but there is much material still worth reading and still sought by students, historians and collectors. At least the vast range can now be assessed and more easily accessed through this listing.

Thanks are due to many people for help in big and small ways – forgive me if I’ve missed you out. I’m only sorry that the time spent on it means that some are not alive to see the result they contributed to.
Sid Brown, Barry Buitekant, Ralph Darlington, Audrey Canning, Robin Cope, Dave Esbester, Nina Fishman, Ruth Frow, Ron Heisler, Paul Hogarth, Alun Hughes, Monty Johnstone, Francis King, Trish Newland, George Matthews, Bill Moore, Kevin Morgan, Bert Pearce, Harold Smith, Ray Watkinson, Andy Whitehead, Matthew Worley. And many anonymous library staff. Thanks to the Lipman-Miliband Trust for a grant towards travelling expenses when visiting libraries and archives from Lewes to Stirling.


CP Publications.

Congress documents. A word of warning about the date of some Congress material. If the congress was held at the end of a year, then the report may actually have been published at the very beginning of the following year, but to avoid confusion I have occasionally listed them in the year of the Congress itself. For instance, the Report for the 8th Congress of 1926 came out in 1927, but would have got confused with the Report of the 9th Congress held in 1927 which also was published in 1927.

Occasionally, pamphlets will be published by a named individual though they are obviously official CP publications. This was generally to avoid legal action against the Party – it was not so bad if an individual was charged with libel, incitement to disaffection or treason as the chosen individual had no money, and the organisation could continue unaffected.

CP Local Publications

For clarity, I have only used the District names that were in existence from the later period of the CP's existence. As in local government, there were organisational changes at various times: for instance, the Lancashire and Cheshire District became the North West District and in the late 1980s Merseyside finally achieved its long-sought after District status. For the purposes of this bibliography, I have only used the North West District. These Districts do correspond to the period when most pamphlets were produced and to boundaries that will be widely understood by any reader. Where I have "reclassified" a pamphlet by a smaller District into a larger one I have always given the original District as publisher followed by the branch if applicable.
The Districts affected are as follows: Lancashire and Cheshire (included in North West); West Middlesex (included in London); South Yorkshire (Yorkshire); South Essex (Eastern); South Midlands - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire & N Wiltshire (included in Midlands). The Channel Islands are included in West of England.

All are published by the District Committee unless stated; when published by Areas or Branches, I have listed the name that appears on the pamphlet. In some early cases, up to 1936, the organisation is called "local" or "group" rather than branch.

Undoubtedly there remains more District material to uncover, especially relating to congresses; the most important are Reports of Work of the retiring DC and of course the Congress Report itself. These could appear in a variety of forms, not always for sale.

National Magazines

A surprising feature is the lack of national industrial journals - this is compensated for by the numerous rank and file papers which lie outside the scope of this bibliography (e.g. those produced by the NMM, and later papers like Flashlight, Building Workers' Charter, Seamen's Charter, etc. in all of which individual CP members and organisations would have played important roles from writing to printing and selling).

The journals published by Advisory Committees (of which there was an
upsurge in the 1970s) varied in size and quality depending on the individuals involved; when there was continuity of editor, or editorial group, these journals could be both long lasting and influential e.g. Historians' Group, Education Advisory Committee; others were more topical and short lived e.g. Portugal Information Bulletin and the journals associated with the "Eurocommunist" period (Socialist Europe and Euro Red).

There was a group of duplicated journals in the late 1940s and early 1950s which reflected the CPGB's activity in anti-colonial issues; some were directly published by the Party - the West Indies Newsletter and the Africa Newsletter - but others were produced by national groups of foreign Communists often in close collaboration with King Street - the Malayan Monitor and the Ceylon Newsletter. The Greek Cypriot Communist community published its own Greek Language weekly, Vema, for many years.
Some bulletins published by Advisory Committees were not for sale, so have been excluded (Psychological Transactions, Middle East Newsletter).

First and last known issues are given or the dates of the only ones traced.

With each entry I have indicated which journal preceded and followed it, where applicable; but by listing journals alphabetically the relationship between them is not clear, so below is a list of the main national publications showing continuity.

Newspapers/official organs:

Communist, The [1] 1920-23 (weekly)
Workers' Weekly, The 1923-27 "
Workers' Life 1927-29 "
Daily Worker 1930-66 (daily)
Morning Star 1966- "
Seven Days 1985-7 (weekly)
Changes 1990-1 (fortnightly)

Reviews (primarily internal):

International Press Correspondence 1921-37 (at least weekly)
World News and Views 1937-53 (weekly)
World News 1954-62 "
Comment 1963-82 (weekly/fortnightly)
Focus 1982-85 (monthly)
News and Views 1986-90 (monthly)

Theoretical Journals:

Communist Review [1] 1921-27 (monthly)
Communist, The [2] 1927-28 "
Communist Review [2] 1929-35 "
Discussion 1936-38 "
Modern Quarterly [1] 1938-39 (Quarterly)
Modern Quarterly [2] 1945-53 "
Communist Review [3] 1946-53 (Monthly)
Marxist Quarterly 1954-57 (Quarterly)
Marxism Today 1957-91 (Monthly)

Women's Journals:

Woman Worker [1] 1926-27 (monthly)
Working Woman 1927-29 "
Woman Worker [2] 1929-30? (monthly/bi-m.)
Woman Today 1938-59 (monthly/bi-m.)
Link 1973-84 (quarterly)

A couple of these were not strictly CP publications - see entry for each item.

Between August 1942 and August 1944 there was a set of 14 pamphlets that constituted a run of journals dealing with internal and organisational matters, but presumably paper restrictions meant they had to be published as “one-offs”. These are listed in National Publications (but to identify them, the world "Journal" plus month of issue appears in the entry for each of them):
Communist Organisation for Victory Aug. 1942
Mobilising the Party for the 2nd Front Oct. 1942
Organising to Win the Offensive Dec. 1942
Organising for Offensive Action Feb. 1943
Organise to Mobilise Millions March 1943
Party Organisation – Weapon for Victory March 1943
Organising for Victory in 1943 May 1943
Sharpening Our Weapons July 1943
Speed the Campaign Dec. 1943
Tune Up Our Organisation Jan. 1944
Strengthen Our Organisation Feb. 1944
Party Organisation and the Offensive May 1944
Party Organisation and the Invasion June 1944
Improve Our Party Organisation Aug. 1944

Local Magazines

There are many occasions when the numbering and dating of papers was erratic. Sometimes the phrase "New Series" is used after a gap of years, sometimes after weeks and sometimes after a title change!

This is particularly the case with the early factory papers which are a law unto themselves. It is possible that some of them listed here are one-offs and should be listed in the "Local Publications" Chapter, but other issues may turn up in the future. Several aspects of these factory papers can be difficult to identify: the District is often not evident (I have had to resort to guessing with a couple of them) and the same applies to the year. The industry may not be clear; this is partly because they were sometimes produced in response to national calls for campaigns (e.g. on the perceived threat of war in 1929, or on unemployment): in these cases the content may be national and not refer to a specific industry. It is also worth pointing out that occasionally factory papers from different branches could be almost identical in content - there were some attempts to co-ordinate them. In some extreme cases, Communist papers were produced by non-members – John Mahon in his Report of Factory Groups Conference in November 1926 said one paper was produced by contacts who were not yet in the Party.

These early factory or pit papers constituted one of the hardest areas of research. It is often very difficult to decide if they are published by CP organisations, or individuals, or other organisations e.g. the Minority Movement or United Mineworkers of Scotland.

There is a list of factory papers near the end of this Introduction that I have found references to but have been unable to trace.

YCL Publications / Magazines

The YCL was always a very small organisation, but it mirrored its parent body in publishing a wide range of material, and also in its structure, which meant there had to be District Congresses with the usual formal publications.

The leading body changed its name several times, so it may appear as the National Committee, the Executive Committee, or the General Council.
National and local YCL magazines are listed together in chronological order; entries will be national unless stated otherwise. Included are papers by the Young Pioneers, and the Young Comrades’ League (short-lived children’s organisations).

Each issue of Cogito, the YCL’s theoretical/discussion journal, was usually devoted to a particular topic and is, exceptionally, listed separately - it is more like a series of separate pamphlets.
The numbering and dating of Cogito, as with some other YCL journals, was extremely erratic and at times non-existent - and there were several series as well as Supplements.


National and local publications are listed together and magazines are also included. These could have had a separate section in the Magazine chapter, but the CP student branches had more in common with each other than with local CP branches in the same District. In some cases, both pamphlets and magazines were published by more than one student branch. As with the YCL, an element of disorganisation is common with dating of publications. I have not listed the internal Reports of Annual Conference of Communist Students, apart from 1951 which is substantial and was priced for sale.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of entries date from 1968 and the following decade.
Only material produced by student organisations is listed here; there are some pamphlets addressed to students in the CP Publications (e.g. An Open Letter to Students).

Daily Worker / Morning Star

This section consists, in chronological order, of all publications by the Daily Worker and then the Morning Star, plus associated organisations – the Daily Worker League, the People’s Press Printing Society etc. The entry for the Daily Worker itself appears under National CP Magazines.

From 22 January 1941 to 26 August 1942, the Daily Worker was banned. I have listed the 11 “alternative” issues that appeared during this time: the titles are followed by an asterisk. According to an article by Bert Baker in the Morning Star on 4 January 1993, there was supposed to be one of these issued each month in the latter half of 1941. They were printed by Dorchester and City Newspapers which had been bought by the CP in 1940 in case of production problems in London.

I have listed all programmes from Daily Worker rallies and anniversary celebrations that I could trace – national and local. There was always an annual event, almost certainly with a programme, in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, so a lot remain to be located. They are very interesting for what they say about the cultural life of the CP (e.g. see DW Gala Programme of 1946), which is why they are listed separately, rather than giving them a collective entry, which is what I have done with the DW Diary, DW Children’s Annual and DW Football Annual.

One source of interesting information, excluded because not published for sale, is the Annual Report of the PPPS – especially in the later years during the struggle for control over the Morning Star.

Modern Books

Modern Books was the small company set up by the CPGB in 1929 to publish material by the Communist International in the UK. Most were published between 1929 and 1936, but the imprint was resurrected in 1939 and 1940 mainly for Comintern views on the war before the German invasion of the USSR.
It was managed by Henry Parsons who also ran Martin Lawrence. The preceding period had seen several legal problems concerning CP publishing companies, so this may be why a separate company was created. This chapter contains very few books by CPGB members and even fewer about the CPGB (World Communists in Action is listed in ‘CP Publications’).
This chapter may therefore appear a bit extraneous to the main bibliography. But it does show the extent of the publishing empire of the CPGB, and the Party considered itself an integral part of the international communist movement at this time – there was nothing anomalous about such an enterprise, and, under different circumstances, these titles might have been published under the imprint of the Party. There was definitely some overlap: for instance, the CPGB published Pollitt’s speech to the 7th Congress of the C.I., while Modern Books published all the other speeches; the CPGB published the Theses of the 10th Plenum of the ECCI, but later ones came from Modern Books. And, at one stage, Modern Books had their office in King Street.
There are some complications with these pamphlets. To start with, very few are dated. The lists of other titles often found at the back are not necessarily published by Modern Books, despite being advertised as such. Titles occasionally differ on the cover and the inside of the publication, as well as in the lists. Some are printed in the US, in the style and format of the Labor Research Association’s series of “International Pamphlets”; these are by American authors and aimed at an American audience, but are published in the UK (e.g. Soviet China; Chemical Warfare). There is some overlap with the Co-operative Publishing Society of Foreign Workers in the USSR – some titles were published by both this body and Modern Books.

About the CPGB

Books and Pamphlets

This was the hardest section of the bibliography in terms of having to decide on inclusion or not. The criteria for inclusion had to be flexible. Several autobiographies and biographies of people who were CP members have been omitted if there are not enough references to the Party to justify inclusion (e.g. Tom Wintringham’s English Captain and Bob Clark’s No Boots to my Feet, both important books about CP members in the Spanish Civil War). Another example is Power in a Trade Union by L James: this has a long analysis about a strike involving Benny Rothman's victimisation - but no mention of his being in the CP (and this was not the reason for his victimisation). But other biographies are included even if the subject was not in the CP but if there are sufficient references to the CP, e.g. Zilliacus: A Life for Peace and Socialism.

I have listed all entries from the Dictionary of Labour Biography of members of the CPGB up to and including Volume 11, but as this reference work is so accessible, I have not annotated the entries.


I have excluded articles from newspapers and, with the very occasional exception, weekly magazines - basically because of the huge amount of extra work but also because these articles tend to be short and topical (e.g. at time of national Congresses, during industrial disputes).

I have tended to exclude articles that deal with theoretical issues and debates that may include references to the CP – I have concentrated on those about the CP’s activity and organisation.

Inprecorr articles reporting interventions by CP members at C.I. conferences and plenums are only included if there is substantial reference to CP activity in Britain.

Interestingly, both Inprecorr and Communist International have a high proportion of articles on the CPGB compared to other countries with larger CPs: in 1935, Reg Bishop had more articles in Inprecorr than any other individual.

The Communist International is another magazine from which many articles have been listed. Initially the "Official Organ of the ECCI", it was later published from King Street and then by Modern Books. Its numbering is chaotic; not only was the numbering different from the Russian edition but there were special C.I. Congress issues, many were not dated and there were several series; it comes as no surprise when an editorial note in December 1931 states: "We ask our readers not to be misled by the nominal printed date of publication"! No copies of Communist International appear to exist for the last quarter of 1928: I can found no explanation - perhaps there were legal problems with importing them. The Communist International quoted is the English edition – for a period there was a separate American edition.

The Communist International was not the only journal with numbering problems. The SWP’s Socialist Review is a major culprit – to the extent that they produced an index cum explanatory pamphlet!
Other journals changed name, and kept the same numbering system: the Society for the Study of Labour History Bulletin became the Labour History Review in 1990.

I have been selective when it comes to obituaries and book reviews; included are important ones from, for example, The Society for the Study of Labour History Bulletin even when short. Obituaries can be useful, even if short, as they may contain important biographical information and bibliographies (see those in Labour Monthly and SSLH). Some obituaries of members of the CP contain no reference to the Party – these have been omitted. Occasionally with short reviews and obituaries I have omitted the title of the piece and just given the title of the book plus author, and stated "Review" or given the name of the individual and stated "Obituary", but I have never done this with major review articles.

I have been strict about not including material prior to 1920, and this does mean some of the discussion leading up to the formation of the CP is excluded; one series of articles in Sylvia Pankhurst’s Workers’ Dreadnought from 1919-20, entitled “Towards the Communist Party” is worthy of mention.

This chapter does include entries for a few newspapers which are considered to have enough articles in most issues to justify inclusion generically rather than having to list every one; these include: The Reasoner, Vanguard, The Leninist, RPC Bulletin.
Other papers that researchers might want to look at that are not listed include: New Times (the paper of the CPGB's official successor organisation Democratic Left), Red Aid Activist (British Section ICWPA), Jewish Forum (Workers' Circle, Branch no.9), Straight Left, papers by far left organisations too numerous to list but including Socialist Worker and Red Mole etc. Among the earlier Trotskyist papers, Red Flag (1933-37) and Fight (1936-7) are useful.
There are also periodicals by right-wing organisations worth noting: IRIS News, Common Cause Bulletin (which, especially in the 1960s, had many interesting snippets of industrial information), and the Economic League’s Notes and Comments published fortnightly, though on subscription only. Longer articles from East-West Digest have been included, though there was something on the CP in most issues.

Sometimes a sequence of articles is given only one entry – i.e. for the first in a series. Reference is usually made in the notes to any subsequent articles.

Finally, it is worth noting that I have been unable to trace particular issues of some journals, so either the information given is incomplete (usually the number of pages) or I have not listed the article in question (e.g. Gertrude Goddden’s article on “Progress on the Communist Front” in Catholic World No. clxix, 1939) as it may not be about the CPGB. Some copies of journals are simply missing from all the national libraries in the UK and from other likely libraries (English Review, October 1950). Sometimes (as in a few of the bound volumes of journals in the MML), articles have been cut out: whether this was for legal reasons and applied to all imported copies, or is simply vandalism by a user is not always clear.
Of course, in the process of such a lengthy project as this, I did come away from libraries very occasionally having forgotten to note the number of pages of an article. So there are a small number of gaps.


This is the one area where I have not examined the texts. Most of titles of the theses are self-explanatory, but some may not have substantial references to the CP and perhaps should not be included. And there are certainly others not listed that do.
Entries for “Year” may be out by one year – occasionally there is a discrepancy between the year accepted and the year written.


Some of the following studies have entries in this bibliography, but for the sake of clarity, I am listing the most important ones here.

---- Labour Party Bibliography Labour Party 1967 (?) 96pp
---- Northern Labour History – A Bibliography Library Association 1982 124pp (covers Cleveland, Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham, Tyne and Wear).
Barberis, P; McHugh, John; Tyldesley, Mike
Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations Pinter 2000 Entries on CPGB, YCL plus others with references to CP (NUWM, People's Convention, Maoist groups etc.)
Bellamy, J & Saville, J ed. Dictionary of Labour Biography Macmillan Ongoing.
Boothroyd, David The History of British Political Parties Politico's 2001 (2 pages on CPGB, plus entries for all the breakaways).
Buitekant, Barry Bibliography of Trotskyist Books, Journals and Pamphlets Published in Britain 1932-1976 Located in the Archives of Socialist Platform Ltd Diploma of Independent Studies, North East London Polytechnic 1988-9.
Burnett, John et al ed. Autobiography of the Working Class Vol.2 1900-45 and Vol.3 Supplement Harvester 1987 (Includes published work and unpublished typescripts).
Frow, E & R Pit and Factory Papers Issued by the CPGB, 1927-34 s.p. 1996
Gulick, Charles et al. History and Theories of Working-Class Movements – A Select Bibliography Bureau of Business & Economy Research/Institute of Industrial Relations, Univ. of California 1955 (30 author entries on CPGB – all magazine articles, mostly from Labour Monthly.
Hammond, Thomas Soviet Foreign Relations and World Communism – Selected, Annotated Bibliography Princeton, 1965 (Only about two dozen entries on CPGB).
Harrison, R; Woolven, G; Duncan, R ed. Warwick Guide to British Labour Periodicals, 1790-1970 Harvester 1977 685pp
Kahan, Vilem ed. Bibliography of the Communist International Brill 1990 Vol.1 400pp
Libraries Association Subject Index to Periodicals (later British Humanities Index). Annual.
Mackenzie, Alan J Communism in Britain – A Bibliography in Society for the Study of Labour History Bulletin No.44 1982 20pp (This was a useful start, despite some spelling errors).
Smith, Harold The British Labour Movement to 1970 - A Bibliography Mansell 1981 250pp (100 entries on the CP).
Spiers, John; Sexsmith, Ann; Everitt, Alastair ed.
The Left in Britain – A Checklist and Guide Harvester 1976 168pp Annual.
Sullivan, A ed. British Literary Magazines: The Modern Age, 1914-84 (Part 2) Greenwood 1986 (has entries on Arena, New Writing, Left Review and Our Time.
Sworakowski, Witold The Communist International and Its Front Organisations Hoover Institution, Stanford, 1965 493pp (Very few in GB).
Worley, Matthew Reflections on Recent British Communist Party History in Historical Materialism No.4, Summer 1999. 21pp (Over 80 entries, most from 1980s/1990s).
Worley, Matthew The British CP, 1920-45 in The Historian Autumn, 1997.


No political organisation in Britain ever attracted so many distinguished writers as the Communist Party. Kingsley Amis, Robert Bolt, Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, Doris Lessing, Iris Murdoch, John Prebble, Arnold Wesker, Raymond Williams and - for two weeks - Stephen Spender, were all Party members in their youth. Others who wrote their best work while they were Communists include Patrick Hamilton, Hamish Henderson, Cecil Day Lewis, Joan Littlewood, Ewan McColl, Hugh MacDiarmid, Edgell Rickword, Randall Swingler and Sylvia Townsend Warner. Moreover, a number of writers - notably Fred Ball, Len Doherty, Harry Heslop, Lewis Jones, Dave Wallis, Ted Willis and Roger Woddis - may be said to have learned to write while they were in the Party. Among Party leaders, Wal Hannington once wrote an unpublished novel, Willie Gallacher published a book of poetry and Palme Dutt a play about Dimitrov.

Unsurprisingly then, the Communist Party and individual Communists make a number of notable appearances in twentieth-century fiction. Arthur Seaton votes Communist in Alan Silittoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) ; the Party’s principal publishing house, Lawrence and Wishart, turns up as ‘Boggis and Stone’ in Anthony Powell’s The Acceptance World (1955) ; the gamekeeper in the first draft of DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover is secretary of a Party cell in Sheffield.

The distinguished Cambridge crystallographer - and life-long Communist - JD Bernal appears in CP Snow’s The Search (1934). The character of Guy Pringle in Olivia Manning’s Balkan Trilogy is based on her husband, the legendary ‘Red’ BBC radio producer Reggie Smith. The ‘finely featured’ NUWM leader assaulted by the police in Walter Greenwood’s best-selling Love on the Dole (1934) was the young Communist Eddie Frow, later AEU Manchester District Secretary, bibliophile and historian. Arthur Seaton in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) attends a factory-gate meeting addressed by John Peck - later a Communist councillor in Nottingham. CP National Organiser Dave Cook is one of the main characters in Alison Fell’s Tricks of the Light (2003). There is a comic portrait of Palme Dutt in Nigel Williams’s Star Turn (1985). And in Goodbye to Berlin (1939) Christopher Isherwood based Sally Bowles, the most famous character in 1930’s English fiction, on the Daily Worker film-critic Jean Ross.

For many novelists membership of the Communist Party was once a short-hand for Bohemianism, as in Howard Spring’s Shabby Tiger (1934) or William McIlvanney’s The Kiln (1996) ; the rock-star narrator of Ian Banks Espedair Street (1987) gives away large sums of money to the Party and the ANC. Elsewhere, Communists were frequently represented in British fiction as humourless and uncompanionable zealots, as in George Orwell’s Coming Up for Air (1939), Cecil Day Lewis’s Child of Misfortune (1939), JB Priestley’s Daylight on Saturday (1943) and Evelyn Waugh’s Unconditional Surrender (1961). The figure of the sad and solitary British Communist working for Soviet intelligence is a variation on this - Sawbridge in CP Snow’s The New Men (1954), Halliday in Graham Greene’s The Human Factor (1978), and George Blake himself in Ian McEwan’s The Innocent (1990). But on the whole, whether they are knaves like Illidge in Aldous Huxley’s Point Counter Point (1929), fools like Lord Erridge in Anthony Powell’s Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant (1960) or sympathetic characters like those in Storm Jameson’s None Turn Back (1936), William Golding’s Free Fall (1959), and William McIlvanney’s Doherty (1975) British Communists were usually represented in fiction as lonely representatives of an idea rather than members of a real political organisation.

The following list is not therefore a comprehensive record of every reference in fiction to the British Communist Party, but a selection of those in which membership of the Party or the actions of Party shape the narrative, characters or argument of the novel in important ways.

Jim Allen, Days of Hope (Futura, 1975)
Revolutionary unrest in Britain from 1916 to the General Strike, culminating in the resignation of Trotsky’s supporters from the Party.

Brian Almond, Gild the Brass Farthing (Lawrence and Wishart, 1963)
The Party’s attempts to organise in the Lancashire textile industry in the 1930s, including a portrait of Bill Rust.

James Barke, Major Operation (Collins, 1936)
Cinematic novel of Glasgow life, starring an heroic NUWM leader and the Party organiser in Patrick.

James Barke, The Land of the Leal (Collins, 1939)
Family saga beginning in rural Galloway in the 1820s and ending in Glasgow in the 1930s, it includes a portrait of the Party and YCL in Glasgow.

Alexander Baron, Seeing Life (Collins, 1958)
Set in London in 1956, and includes a character allegedly based on John Gollan.

Ralph Bates, Lean Men (Peter Davies, 1934)
British Comintern agent arrives in Barcelona in 1931 to organise the PCE.

Anthony Bertram, Men Adrift (Chapman and Hall, 1935)
Experimental novel whose many plot lines include the murder of a Party member.

Simon Blumenfeld, Jew Boy (Jonathan Cape, 1935)
Whitechapel Bildungsroman which rejects the immigrant culture of the Ghetto and the inaccessible culture of England in favour of the universal and international claims of the Communist Party.

Robert Bonnar, Stewartie (Lawrence and Wishart, 1964)
Labour Party corruption in a small town in Fife helps a young railwayman decide to join the Party.

Alec Brown, Daughters of Albion (Boriswood, 1935)
Picture of unhappy middle-class society where emotional and sexual honesty is enjoyed only by those who have joined the Communist Party.

Alec Brown, Breakfast in Bed (Boriswood, 1937)
The intellectual journey of an English Liberal couple - one towards Fascism, the other to the Party and Spain.

Arthur Calder-Marshall, Pie in the Sky (Jonathan Cape, 1937)
Experimental state-of-the-nation novel which includes several Party members and a character possibly based on Harry Pollitt.

Cecil Day Lewis, Starting Point (Jonathan Cape, 1937)
Story of four friends from Oxford in the 1920s, as they make their ways in the world, one as a scientist, one as a writer, one as a philanthropist and one as a Communist who fights in Spain.

Len Doherty, A Miner’s Sons (Lawrence and Wishart, 1955)
Party life in a South Yorkshire pit village.

Len Doherty, The Man Beneath (Lawrence and Wishart, 1957)
NUM politics in South Yorkshire coalfield, including CP fraction.

Peter Elstob, The Armed Rehearsal (Secker and Warburg, 1964)
Spanish Civil-War novel (by ex-Iber) containing portraits of Douglas Hyde, Kit Conway, George Nathan, Fred Copeman and Tom Wintringham.

Lewis Grassic Gibbon [Leslie Mitchell], Grey Granite (Jarrolds, 1934)
The third of Grassic Gibbon’s celebrated A Scots Quair trilogy, in which Ewan leaves Glasgow with the 1932 Hunger Marchers to work full-time for the Party in London.

Willie Goldman, Light in the Dust (Grey Walls Press, 1944)
An ambitious young writer is torn between the attractions of literary London and the intellectual culture of Whitechapel Communism to which he belongs.

Graham Greene, It’s a Battlefield (Heinemann, 1934)
The events surrounding the trial of a Communist bus-driver charged with manslaughter after the death of a policeman on a demonstration.

Frank Griffin, October Day (Secker and Warburg, 1939)
The battle of Cable Street.

Bruce Hamilton The Brighton Murder Trial : Rex v Rhodes (Boriswood, 1937)
Supposed verbatim record of the trial in 194- of a Brighton Party member framed with the murder of a local Fascist. The novel was dedicated to fellow NCCL activists Dudley Collard and Neil Lawson.

Bruce Hamilton, Traitor’s Way (Cresset, 1938)
Fast, anti-Fascist period thriller which begins with the death of a Party member at an anti-Fascist demonstration ; Hamilton was the older brother of the novelist and playwright Patrick Hamilton.

Margot Heinemann, The Adventurers (Lawrence and Wishart, 1960)
Study in the rise and fall of the British Left from 1943-1956. Includes portraits of Arthur Horner and the young EP Thompson.

Harold Heslop, Last Cage Down (Wishart, 1935)
Late Third Period novel inspired by the 1929 dispute at Dawdon Colliery, dramatising the clash between opportunist lodge officials and rank-and-file Communist leadership inside the DMA.

Jack Hilton, Laugh at Polonius (Jonathan Cape, 1942)
The political education of a young weaver in Rochdale.

Barry Hines, The Heart of It (Michael Joseph, 1994)
Successful scriptwriter returns to his native Yorkshire after the 1980s miners’ strike to face the memory of his father, a life-long Party member.

William Holt, Backwaters (Nicholson and Watson, 1934)
Young Lancashire weaver emigrates to Canada where he works in lumber camps before returning home and joining the CP ; includes a comic account of the Party in Todmdorden (where Holt was a CP councillor).

Gwyn Jones, Times Like These (Gollancz, 1936)
1926 Lockout in a South Wales pit village.

Jack Jones, Rhondda Roundabout (Hamish Hamilton, 1934)
Affectionate satire on life in Merthyr, including a comical account of the Party in the Rhondda.

Lewis Jones, We Live (Lawrence and Wishart, 1939)
Sequel to Jones’s Cwmardy (1937) representing events in the South Wales coalfield from the early 1920s to 1936 and the War in Spain ; set in the ‘Little Moscow’ of Mardy in the Rhondda.

Mervyn Jones, Today the Struggle (Quartet, 1978)
Among the many characters in this cross-section of British society from the 1930s to the 1970s is Alf Saunders, a railway signalman and a life-long Party member.

Dave Lambert, He Must So Live (Lawrence and Wishart, 1956)
Young foundry worker joins the Party in Glasgow in the late 1930s.

Dave Lambert, No Time for Sleeping (1958)
Sequel to He Must So Live, a study in Clydeside politics in the late 1930s, representing the Communist Party as a unifying force against sectarianism and sectional interest in industry and politics. Includes a brief appearance by Willie Gallacher.

John le Carre, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Gollancz, 1963)
Idealistic young British Communist is used in a cynical Cold War operation in the GDR ; the novel includes a grim portrait of Party life in Bayswater.

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook (Michael Joseph, 1962)
Complex study in fictional autobiography which addresses, in the ‘Red Notebook’, the intellectual crisis in the British Party in the 1950s.

Jack Lindsay, We Shall Return (Dakers, 1942)
The Phoney War, the Fall of France and the evacuation at Dunkirk seen through the eyes of a British Communist in the BEF.

Jack Lindsay, Hullo Stranger (Dakers, 1945)
The politicisation of women working in industry during the War.

Jack Lindsay, Betrayed Spring (Bodley Head, 1953)
Set in London, Lancashire, Tyneside and the West Riding during the winter of 1946-47, the first of Lindsay’s nine linked ‘British Way’ novels shows the Party valiantly trying to prevent the betrayal of war-time hopes by the Labour Government.

Jack Lindsay, Rising Tide (Bodley Head, 1953)
The Party’s leadership of the 1949 Dock Strike and Squatters’ Movement.

Jack Lindsay, Moment of Choice (Bodley Head, 1955)
Communists fighting losing battles in industry, in the Peace Movement and in the campaign against the war in the Korea.

Ian McEwan, Black Dogs (Jonathan Cape, 1992)
The high hopes of Communists in 1946 and their defeat in 1989 are linked by the experiences of an ex-Party member.

Ethel Mannin, Comrade O Comrade (Jarrolds, 1947)
Satirical portrait of the London literary Left in the late 1930s, particularly scathing about the Party’s attitude to events in Spain.

Naomi Mitchison, We Have Been Warned (Constable, 1935)
Study in the relationship between the Labour Left and the CP (including a Communist character called Donald McLean who defects to the Soviet Union).

Iris Morley, Nothing But Propaganda (Peter Davies, 1946)
Left-wing London during war-time, including a picture of work in a Communist Party bookshop.

Leslie Paul, Men in May (Gollancz, 1936)
General Strike in Lewisham, including sympathetic account of the role of Party members.

Jim Phelan, Ten-a-Penny People (Gollancz, 1938)
Violent political melodrama set in Manchester.

AP Roley [George Chandler] Revolt (Arthur Barker, 1933)
Third Period novel in which a Liverpool Communist (based partly on Jim Phelan) is incriminated in an IRA raid on a post-office.

Herbert Smith, A Field of Folk (Lawrence and Wishart, 1957)
Work and politics in a West London engineering factory, including workers who have stayed in the Party after 1956.

Herbert Smith, A Morning to Remember (Lawrence and Wishart, 1962)
Work, health and safety, union politics, and a Party branch in an electric power-station.

John Sommerfield, May Day (Lawrence and Wishart, 1936)
Experimental, cinematic account of three days in the life of London, culminating in a May Day demonstration led by the London District CP.

John Sommerfield, Trouble in Porter Street (Key Books/Fore Publications, 1938)
Novella about a Party-led rent strike in working-class Chelsea (where the author was Branch Secretary).

John Sommerfield, The Imprinted (London Magazine Editions, 1977)
Fictional autobiography of ex-Iber, including portraits of John Cornford, Stephen Spender and Jean Ross.

Philip Toynbee, The Savage Days (Hamish Hamilton, 1937)
Youthful fantasy about a bloodthirsty and successful Soviet Revolution in Britain.

Geoffrey Trease, Missing from Home (Lawrence and Wishart, 1937)
Adventure story for children about two middle-class runaways who are befriended by YCL hikers and help miners win a local strike.

Edward Upward, Journey to the Border (Hogarth, 1938)
Kafkaesque satire on 1930s Britain in which the only rational course of action is to join the Party.

Edward Upward, In the Thirties (Heinemann, 1962)
Autobiographical novel which ends with the decision to join the Party.

Edward Upward, The Rotten Elements (Heinemann, 1969)
The second in Upward’s trilogy The Spiral Ascent, in which Alan Sebrill leaves the Party in 1949, believing it to be ‘Revisionist’ ; includes portraits of Pollitt, Dutt and Mahon.

Gordon Wardman, Crispin’s Spur (Secker and Warburg, 1985)
Hard-boiled thriller set in the near future when Britain is on the edge of civil-war and the Party has turned ‘left’.

Raymond Williams, Loyalties (Hogarth Press, 1989)
The overlapping stories of a group of friends from 1936 to the 1980s, including two characters (one possibly based on Margot Heinemann) who
remain Party members.

TC Worsley, Fellow Travellers (London Magazine Editions, 1971)
Roman a clef set during the Spanish Civil-War and including portraits of Stephen Spender and Giles Romilly.


Unsurprisingly there are few plays that deal with the CP or CP members. There is nothing as focused or as significant as Trevor Griffiths' The Party which is based on Gerry Healy and the Workers' Revolutionary Party. There is room - though limited - for some research here, but most plays must surely be covered by two key comprehensive books on left theatre: Colin Chambers The Story of Unity Theatre and Steve Nicholson British Theatre and the Red Peril - The Portrayal of Communism, 1917-1945 though the former only deals with one theatre company and the latter is not limited to portrayal of Communists in Britain. Chambers is useful for actors who were in the CP.
Adrienne Scullion's Glasgow Unity Theatre article in "Twentieth Century British History" covers a couple of plays just in Scotland.
Arnold Wesker's Chicken Soup With Barley is based on Wesker's own Communist family members (though Piratin in Our Flag Stays Red claims it's based on his book).
Simon Blumenfeld, better known as a novelist, wrote two unpublished plays, The Battle of Cable Street (1987) and No Pasaran (1998) which are a re-assessment of the CP's position of the 1930s and both feature members of a CP branch. A lengthy extract was published in Remembering Cable Street: Fascism and Anti-Fascism in British Society (2000).


The Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) as such only commissioned a handful of films, including two election broadcasts that it was allowed to transmit on television during the 1966 and 1970 campaigns. But from the catalogue of films listed below it can be gathered that the Party was instrumental in the production of a much greater number. The majority of these were produced by organisations that were established at the instigation of the CPGB or at least endorsed by it. Without fail their first aim was to secure the distribution and exhibition of films from the Socialist part of the world. British-made films were generally seen as an extra. Thus Atlas Film produced its own newsreel WORKERS' TOPICAL NEWS as a supplement to the Soviet feature films that it was distributing. This film company was established in 1929 to cater to the needs of the workers' film societies, affiliated to the Federation of Workers' Film Societies, which were emerging in London and a number of other industrial centres. Only three issues of WORKERS' TOPICAL NEWS were produced in 1930-31, as the movement petered out when the supply from the Soviet Union temporarily dried up and societies were faced with increasing interference by local authorities. The answer was the use of non-inflammable sub-standard (16mm) film, as the 1909 Cinematograph Act only applied to inflammable film. The flourishing of the left film movement in the second half of the thirties was largely due to this anomaly. A crucial role was played by Kino, a film group set up in the autumn of 1933 by some members of the Workers' Theatre Movement. After waging numerous battles with the authorities Kino (the Russian word for cinema) won the right to screen a 16mm print of BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN, Eisenstein's famous film that had been banned by the British Board of Film Censors for its revolutionary content. Like its predecessor Kino produced a number of WORKERS' NEWSREELS (1934-35), but it also had a try at fiction resulting in the 'featurette' BREAD. In the course of 1934 Kino's production department merged with the Workers' Camera Club to form the Workers' Film and Photo League. Adapting the Comintern's Popular Front policy the League dropped the epithet Workers' by the end of 1935. In the second half of the thirties a rift would develop between Kino which adhered strictly to the Party line and believed in professionalism and the Film and Photo League which advocated the political unity of the Left and cherished amateurism. By that time another organisation made its presence felt: the Progressive Film Institute (PFI). Set up by the well-known Communist zoologist/journalist/film maker Ivor Montagu as an outfit that would pick up the crumbs left by Kino and the commercial distributors, the PFI not only distributed 35mm prints of Soviet films but it also started producing films. DEFENCE OF MADRID (1936), a film record of Republican Madrid under siege, turned out to be the campaign film the Left had been waiting for. It was screened all over Britain, raising some £ 6,000 for Spanish relief. Montagu would return to Spain in 1938, resulting in another batch of films on the war. In 1939 Montagu made an election film for the CPGB, entitled PEACE AND PLENTY after Harry Pollitt's main report at the XVth Party Congress. The film was a brilliant indictment of the policies of the Chamberlain Government, but first the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and then the outbreak of the Second World War made it redundant.
During the war (which for the CPGB only started in July 1941, after the entry of the Soviet Union), both Kino and the PFI ceased to be active. The role of the Soviet Film Agency, set up in 1941 by the indefatigable Ivor Montagu, was limited. It left the Party ill-equipped for the post-war situation and it was not until 1951 before another body was established to provide the Left and in particular the Communist movement with films from the Socialist part of the world. This was Plato Films Ltd. Its managing director was Stanley Forman who had previously had a career with the YCL, the British-Soviet Society and the Civil Service Union. Among Plato's shareholders were such Communist luminaries as Eva Reckitt (of Collett's bookstore fame), trade-union official Bill Ellerby, secretary of the British-Soviet Friendship Society, Bill Wainwright, composer Alan Bush and singer Martin Lawrence, with British-Soviet Friendship Houses Ltd. making a substantial investment of £500. Montagu donated a number of British left-wing films, both PFI-productions and films made by Kino and the Workers' Film and Photo League, to Plato. After the 22nd Party Congress when Party organisations were urged 'to develop the cultural struggle as a part of the political struggle', film shows proliferated. Plato and Contemporary Films (a company founded by Charles Cooper, a British Communist who had been forced to leave the USA because of the McCarthy witchhunt) provided most of the films. Contemporary Films worked closely with the New Era Film Club, a revival of the idea of a workers' film society. New Era had been established in 1950 by a group of youngsters, including Anthony Simmons, Walter Lassally and Peter Brinson who would eventually made their mark in the British film industry. Their first success was the production of a newsreel, sponsored by the London Trades Council, of the 1950 May Day procession in London which had been banned by the Labour Government and ended in clashes between police and demonstrators. The New Era Film Club produced films on youth festivals in Berlin (1951), Sheffield (1952) and Bucharest (1953), before it was disbanded in the mid fifties. From 1954 another Communist film unit was active in Glasgow, the Dawn Cine Group. In 1957 one of the local New Era film societies, based in Ilford, premiered a particularly ambitious film (partly in colour, with a musical score written especially for this production) on the past, present and future of Ilford. Films were also made by individual Party members or sympathisers such as Beverley Robinson in Kent or William McQuilken in Paisley, who felt it their duty to put the film camera they owned to good use. But the most consistent chronicler of the British Communist movement was Plato Films. The unveiling of the Marx Memorial, the funerals of Communist leaders, Party Congresses, Festivals, demonstrations: from the mid fifties to the late eighties cameramen Lewis McLeod, Manny Yospa, Jeff Perks and others covered these events on behalf of Plato and its sister company ETV. In 1959 Plato was hit by a libel suit issued by British lawyers on behalf on the NATO General Speidel who contested the views on his own person presented in the GDR documentary OPERATION TEUTONIC SWORD which was distributed by Plato. The court battle went all the way to the House of Lords and lasted more than three years. A new company was set up, Educational & Television Films Ltd. (ETV), which was trading until 2002. As a result of the Speidel case Plato/ETV forged strong links with the GDR, resulting in co-productions with the DEFA film company and with East German Television. ETV, moreover, was responsible for the production of the election broadcasts mentioned at the start of this introduction. In the 1970s it made a major contribution to the Chile Solidarity Campaign with films like COMPANERO. Its library has been used by many television companies enriching a great number of historical documentaries. When ETV stopped trading, its rich collection was deposited at the BFI National Archive.

The following list contains films that have some link with the British Communist movement: because they were made for or by the CPGB or produced by an organisation that was established or endorsed by the Party. This is therefore not a list of any documentary or feature film, in the making of which Communist film technicians were involved. Apart from the films at the BFI National Archive, including the ETV collection, films have been included from the collections of the Scottish ScreenArchive and some smaller depositories. A brief summary is provided on each of the ninety odd titles listed below. Unless indicated the films are black and white. The running times are approximate.

Bert Hogenkamp, Deadly Parallels: Film and the Left in Britain 1929-39, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1986, 2000
Bert Hogenkamp, 'Communist Party and related films held by ETV Ltd.', in: Communist History Network Newsletter, October 1997, pp8-14
Bert Hogenkamp, Film, Television and the Left in Britain 1950 to 1970, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2000

BFI National Archive, 21 Stephen Street, London W1P 2LN, Tel. 020 - 7255.1444, Fax 020 - 7580.7503,
Platform Films & Video, Unit 14 Pennybank Chambers, 33-35 St. John's Square, London EC1M 4DS, Tel. 020 - 7278.8394,
Scottish Screen Archive, National Library of Scotland, 39-41 Montrose Avenue, Hillington Park, Glasgow G52 4LA, Tel. 0845 - 366.4600, Fax 0845 - 366.4601,
TUC Library Collections, Holloway Road Learning Centre, 236-250 Holloway Road, London N7 6PP, Tel. 020 - 7133.2260, Fax 020 – 7133.2529,

ACTION AGAINST THE MEANS TEST (1935) - a silent film (10 mins.), made by the Film & Photo League, of demonstrations against the Means Test.
print location: BFI ETV collection

AGAINST IMPERIALIST WAR - MAY DAY 1932 [WORKERS' TOPICAL NEWS NO.4] (1932) - a 15 minute newsreel of the 1932 May Day demonstration, showing the marchers from various parts of London, the speakers in Hyde Park (among them Harry Pollitt) and the march towards the Japanese Embassy, near the Portman Hotel.
print location: BFI

ANTI-FASCIST DEMONSTRATIONS 1937 - a silent film (2 mins.) composed of footage of various anti-fascist demonstrations in Paris, Great Britain and the Soviet Union.
print location: BFI ETV collection

BEHIND THE SPANISH LINES (1938) - a 20 minute film, produced by Ivor Montagu's Progressive Film Institute, showing how democracy works in Spain and how Italy and Germany are making a farce of Non-Intervention.
print location: BFI

BREAD (1934) - a short fiction film (12 mins.) about an unemployed man who in despair steals a loaf of bread, is caught and sentenced to jail, while students arrested for spilling fruit off a cart are let off with a warning; the film, produced by Kino, ends with documentary footage of the 1934 Hunger March.
print location: BFI

BRITAIN 1935 - JUBILEE YEAR [JUBILEE] (1935) - a silent film (10 mins.) made by the brothers H.A. and R. Green, contrasting the East End Jubilee tour of King and Queen, covered by batteries of newsreel cameras, with the day-to-day East End with its slums, poverty and dole queues that the newsreel cameras never showed.
print location: BFI

BUSMEN'S HOLIDAY (1937) - silent colour footage of the London busmen's contingent in the May Day parade (the London busmen were on strike against the wishes of the TGWU leadership); Bert Papworth is shown; followed by a black and white reportage of an outing by the busmen to a seaside resort where they are entertained by Tom Mann; total running time is 7 mins.
print location: BFI

CINE HOLIDAY (1955) - a film shot by Hugh Dunlop showing members of the Glasgow-based Dawn Cine Group discussing scenes of their unrealised film LOST TREASURES and acting them out.
print location: SCA

CLAUDE BERRIDGE FUNERAL (13 JULY 1966) - silent footage shot by Manny Yospa for ETV Ltd., showing the crowd assembling in Golders Green, the cortege on the move, people entering the crematorium; among the palbearers are Wolf Wayne, Bill Jones, Dennis Goodwin, Bill Alexander, John Mahon and Pat Devine; other well-known Communists are present.
print location: BFI ETV collection

COLLET'S ADVERT FOR SOVIET UNION MAGAZINE (early 1960s) - a short colour advert (5 mins.) for the magazine Soviet Union, sponsored by its distributor Collet's and shot at Stanley Forman's North London home by Peter Robinson and Peter Weingreen.
print location: BFI ETV collection

CONSTRUCTION (1935) - a short film (10 mins.), directed by building worker Alf Garrard, about the various activities on the Exeter House building site in Putney, including the re-enactment of a strike over the sacking of a labourer's steward which had taken place earlier on the site.
print location: BFI

CP CONGRESS 1963 - silent footage (10 mins.) of the Congress held at St. Pancras Town Hall shot by Manny Yospa for ETV Ltd., showing such well-known Communists as Willie Gallacher and Bob Stewart, with Frank Stanley in the chair and John Gollan delivering the main report.
print location: BFI ETV collection

CP ELECTION FILM 1963 - this film (10 mins.) also known as OUR LIFE IN OUR HANDS was made by ETV Ltd. as a party political broadcast for the 1964 elections but never transmitted as the CPGB was unable to field the required 50 candidates; it features John Gollan, who discusses party policies and introduces the candidates Gladys Easton, Frank Stanley, Julian Tudor-Hart and Jimmy Reid.
print location: BFI ETV collection

CP ELECTION FILM 1970 - John Gollan addresses the nation in a party political broadcast (5 mins.) made by ETV Ltd. for the 1970 elections; it ends with the slogan 'Go one better - Vote Socialist'.
print location: BFI ETV collection

CP 15TH CONGRESS 1938 [XVTH CONGRESS FILM] - a silent film (10 mins.) made by Ivor Montagu's Progressive Film Institute of the CPGB Congress in Birmingham that was overshadowed by the Münich crisis; well-known Communists such as Pollitt, Hannington, Gallacher, Mann and Gollan are shown on the stage of the town hall that had been especially decorated for the occasion; A PLANT IN THE SUN is performed by Unity Theatre and Tom Mann leads the community singing.
print location: BFI

CP HOME POLICY [THE HOUSING PROBLEM] (1955) - a silent film (8 mins.) exposing Tory and Labour housing policies, to be screened by the Communist Party cinema van during the 1955 local and Parliamentary election campaigns.
print location: BFI ETV collection

[CPGB DEMONSTRATION CA. 1953] - colour footage (10 mins.) shot by Lewis McLeod showing the London District contingent leaving Hyde Park; Peter Kerrigan is seen among the marchers; Harry Pollitt addresses the crowd on Trafalgar Square.
print location: BFI ETV collection

CPGB DEMONSTRATION, LONDON 13 JUNE 1971 - silent colour footage (10 mins.) of a CPGB demonstration against the policies of the Heath Government; the film ends with John Gollan addressing the demonstrators on Trafalgar Square.
print location: BFI ETV collection

CRIME AGAINST MADRID (1937) - a CNT film (30 mins.) re-edited with other material.
print location: BFI ETV collection

DAILY WORKER EDITORIAL BOARD (1948) - footage (5 mins.) shot by Pathé News in 1948 but never included in its newsreel; Daily Worker staff and offices in their new building.
print location: BFI ETV collection

DAILY WORKER TRAILER (1938) - a short silent advertising film (3 mins.) for the Daily Worker.
print location: BFI

DECISION - this film on the Inner Party Democracy congress held in September 1977 was made by Roger Graef for Granada Television.
print location: BFI ETV collection

DEFENCE OF MADRID (1936) - silent film (50 mins.) made in Madrid in November 1936 by Ivor Montagu and Norman McLaren as the Progressive Film Institute's contribution to raise money for Spanish Aid; in the first Part the history of the war is explained, with its consequences: Italian airplanes bombing Madrid, the destruction of human lives and historic buildings, the rescue work; in Part II the formation of the Republican army is shown, the front line near the University City, the food queues and the evacuation of women and children; the last Part shows the arrival of a Soviet food ship and the activities of the International Brigade, with footage of Ludwig Renn and Hanns Beimler; Eleanor Rathbone and Christopher Addison add their comments (in captions).
print location: BFI

DINNER FOR AMBATIELOS - silent footage (10 mins.) of a dinner held to celebrate the release from jail and arrival in the UK of Greek Communist Tony Ambatielos.
print location: BFI ETV collection

ELECTION 1966 - John Gollan addresses the nation in a party political broadcast (5 mins.) made by ETV Ltd. for the 1966 elections.
print location: BFI ETV collection

ELECTION 1966 - John Gollan introduces three CPGB candidates: Irene Swann, Frank Stanley and Tony Chater; this party political broadcast (10 mins.) was not transmitted.
print location: BFI ETV collection

FASCISTS DEFEATED AT CABLE STREET (1936) - silent footage (5 mins.) of anti-fascist campaigns in 1936 (poor quality).
print location: BFI ETV collection


FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF LABOUR MONTHLY - silent footage (10 mins.) of the party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Labour Monthly in 1971; with shots of Rajani Palme Dutt and Robin Page Arnott.
print location: BFI ETV collection

FIFTY FIGHTING YEARS (1972) - a sound film (45 mins.) on the history of Labour Monthly and the history of the British Labour movement in this century; the film was written by Stanley Forman, Ivor Montagu and Roger Woddis, co-directed by Forman and Roland Bischoff and made possible by East German financial support; it features Rajani Palme Dutt and Robin Page Arnott.
print location: BFI ETV collection

FREE THAELMANN (1935) - silent film (18 mins.) edited from a longer American film by Ivor Montagu's Progressive Film Institute in support of the campaign of the Relief Committee for the Victims of German Fascism; the career of Thälmann is traced, with footage of the Weimar period, and the Nazi terror, the underground press and the international campaign for the release of the German CP leader are shown.
print location: BFI

GALLACHER'S FUNERAL (1965) - silent footage (10 mins.) filmed by Manny Yospa in Paisley; among those paying their last respect are Bob Stewart, Rajani Palme Dutt, D.N. Pritt, Hugh McDiarmid, Frank Stanley, John Platts-Mills, Johnnie and Elsie Gollan; among the palbearers are Frank Stanley, Gordon McLennan and Peter Kerrigan; the cortege moves through Paisley; shots of the crowd at the funeral; the nameplate on the door of Gallacher's house.
print location: BFI ETV collection

GLIMPSES OF MODERN RUSSIA (1931) - a compilation film (10 mins.) edited by Ralph Bond from footage on the Soviet Union, showing the progress in industry and agriculture as a result of Lenin's leadership and, after his death, of the carrying out of his principles.
print location: BFI

HARRY POLLITT'S FUNERAL (1960) - silent footage (7 mins.) shot by Manny Yospa for ETV Ltd., showing well-known Communists assembling; among the crowd are Hewlett Johnson (the 'Red' Dean of Canterbury), Paul Robeson, a Chinese delegation and Soviet ambassador Ponomariov; Marjorie Pollitt in the car, which is followed by Gollan, Gallacher, Kerrigan, Annie Powell and Brian Pollitt; the cortege arrives at Golders Green crematorium.
print location: BFI ETV collection

HARRY POLLITT IN AUSTRALIA (1960) - silent footage (20 seconds) of Harry Pollitt talking to reporters on his arrival in Australia; the film was sent as a fraternal gift by Australian comrades.
print location: BFI ETV collection

HARRY POLLITT IN CHINA (1955) - a sound reportage (9 mins.) of the visit of Harry Pollitt and Bob Stewart to China in April/May 1955; they visit Peking, Shanghai, meet Mao Zedong and join the May Day celebrations on Tienamin Square; the commentary is spoken by Daily Worker correspondent Alan Winnington.
print location: BFI ETV collection

HARRY POLLITT IN MANCHESTER (1959) - silent footage (3 mins.) of the arrival of Harry Pollitt in the (Free Trade?) hall in Manchester on Sunday 22 February 1959 where a meeting against the Tory policies is held, followed by footage of the meeting itself; shot by Lewis McLeod for the Soviet newsreel.
print location: BFI ETV collection

[HARRY POLLITT IN THE 1950S] - silent colour footage of a demonstration in Hyde Park with Julius Jacobs, Solly Kaye and George Bridges; silent colour footage of a May Day demonstration starting on the Embankment and ending in Hyde Park, with Harry Pollitt speaking from the platform; black and white footage of a CP delegation delivering a petition to 10 Downing Street; total length of this material shot by Lewis McLeod approx. 10 mins.
print location: BFI ETV collection

[HARRY POLLITT 1955 ELECTION] - a sound film (3½ mins.) shot by Ralph Bond in the United Motion Pictures studios in London; Bond (off screen) introduces the General Secretary of the Communist Party who exhorts the audience to vote Communist; this film which was made to be shown by the Communist cinema vans may possibly already have been shot in 1951.
print location: BFI ETV collection


HUNGER MARCH (1934) - film record (15 mins.) of the 1934 Hunger March, starting with an explanation by National Unemployed Workers Movement leader Wal Hannington of the purpose of the March, showing the preparations in Glasgow and Cambridge where students and clergy demonstrate their solidarity and ending with the arrival of the marchers in London.
print location: BFI

ILFORD (1957) - this 50 minute 16mm sound film, produced over a period of three years by the Ilford New Era Film Society, offers an ambitious 'people's history' of the borough of Ilford; a number of characters of humble origin are shown in different historical periods: in the 14th century they are exploited by the church, in the eighteenth by aristocracy and in the present day by big business and small profiteers; the film ends with a sequence in colour showing the future when Socialism will prevail (although the word is never mentioned) and all will lead a secure and happy life.
print location: BFI

INTERNATIONAL BRIGADE (1937) - silent film (12 mins.) made by Vera Elkan with support of Ivor Montagu's Progressive Film Institute; unique material on the day-to-day activities of the International Brigade; including shots of Pravda correspondent Michail Koltsov, Daily Worker correspondent Frank Pitcairn, Professor Haldane, Jock Cunningham, George Nathan, Hans Kahle, Giuseppe di Vittorio and Ludwig Renn.
print location: BFI

INTERNATIONAL BRIGADE - EMPRESS HALL RALLY (1939) - silent footage (10 mins.) shot by ACT members of the meeting in the Empress Hall to celebrate to return to Britain of the British International Brigaders who fought in Spain.
print location: BFI


JUNE 29TH DEMONSTRATION - a film (10 mins.) of the CPGB National Demonstration in 1954, shot by Manny Yospa.
print location: BFI ETV collection

KING STREET, 1948 - silent footage (5 mins.) shot by Pathé News but never included in the newsreel; Communist MPs Phil Piratin and Willie Gallacher in discussion with General Secretary Harry Pollitt; John Gollan working in his office; members of the staff at 16 King Street.
print location: BFI ETV collection

LAWRENCE BRADSHAW INTERVIEW - the artist is interviewed (5 mins.) by GDR cameraman Dieter Kratz on his Karl Marx sculpture.
print location: ETV

LDCP GARDEN PARTY AND COACH OUTING (1935) - a silent film (5 mins.) of a garden party and coach outing of the London District of the CP.
print location: BFI ETV collection

LET GLASGOW FLOURISH (1956) - produced by the Dawn Cine Group, this 15 minute silent film presents the problems of slum housing as seen through the eyes of ordinary Glaswegians; it ends with a demonstration against a Tory attempt to sell council houses at the Merrylee estate.
print location: SCA

LONDON WORKERS' OUTING, EASTER 1935 - a silent film (4½ mins.) of sports and other amusements at High Beech, organised by the London District of the CPGB.
print location: BFI ETV collection

MAY DAY 1937 - a silent film (9 mins.) of the Communist demonstrations at May Day 1937.
print location: BFI ETV collection

MAY DAY 1950 - a silent film (10 mins.) made by the New Era Film Society, with support from the London Trades Council; a record of the 1950 May Day demonstration, banned by the Labour Government, which ends in a violent confrontation between police and marchers; only extracts of the original film have survived.
print location: Platform Films

[MCQUILKEN FILM ONE] (1973-75) - 8mm footage of strikes and demonstrations against the stationing of Polaris submarines in Scotland shot by Scottish Communist and amateur film maker William McQuilken.
print location: SCA

[MCQUILKEN FILM TWO] (ca.1960) - 8mm footage of strikes shot by Scottish Communist and amateur film maker William McQuilken.
print location: SCA

A MESSAGE FROM VIETNAM (1966) - a appeal on behalf of the people of Vietnam for money to buy medical supplies to treat the wounded; this 12 minute film was produced by Stanley Forman (ETV).
print location: BFI ETV collection

MR ATTLEE IN SPAIN (1937) - a newsreel (5 mins.) of the visit of Labour leader Clement Attlee to Republican Spain.
print location: BFI

NEVER AGAIN (1955) - a silent film (8 mins.) about the horrors of Nazism and the campaign against nuclear armament; this film was made to be screened by the Communist Party cinema van during the 1955 local and Parliamentary election campaigns.
print location: BFI ETV collection

NEWS MAGAZINE; DAILY WORKER OUTING (1951-56) - a compilation of protest marches in Glasgow including the Gorbals Tenants Rents Protest and mass deputation to Edinburgh, and marches by various political groups including the Labour Party and the Communist Party; 10 minutes of silent footage (black and white and colour) shot by Charlie Bukelis.
print location: SCA

1953 (1953) - a 15 minute colour newsreel of a Communist demonstration starting near the Angel Underground Station and ending in Harlesden, featuring well-known Communists like Solly Kaye and George Matthews.
print location: TUC Library Collections

ONE GREAT VISION (1953) - a lengthy (50 mins.) report, produced by the New Era Film Club, of the World Youth Festival in Bucharest, presented with a love angle between a Scottish instrument mechanic and a London bookshop assistant.
print location: BFI


PALME DUTT INTERVIEW 28 JUNE 1966 - Rajani Palme Dutt is interviewed by GDR Television (20 mins.).
print location: BFI ETV collection

PEACE AND PLENTY (1939) - Communist Party election film (sound; 23 mins.) made by Ivor Montagu's Progressive Film Institute; an audiovisual adaptation of Harry Pollitt report at the Party's XVth Congress, indicting the Chamberlain Government and calling for the election of a democratic government; the puppet of Chamberlain was made by the mother of actress Elsa Lanchester; the music was written by well-known bandleader Van Phillips; embodying the Popular Front policy the film became obsolete in September 1939, while the Parliamentary elections in view of which it was made did not take place until 1945 due to the outbreak of World War II.
print location: BFI

[PEACE DEMONSTRATION, CLYDEBANK] (1952) - a report (16 mins.) of the Youth Festival in Clydebank on 28 September 1952, showing crowds gathering for a demonstration and groups carrying banners for 'World Youth Friendship and Peace'.
print location: SCA

PEOPLE'S JUBILEE (1977) - colour footage (10 mins.) shot by Jeff Perks of the alternative jubilee festivities in Alexandra Palace.
print location: BFI ETV collection

PEOPLE'S SCRAPBOOK 1938 (1938) - a newsreel (6 mins.), filmed with 9.5mm equipment by local CPGB members and sympathisers, of various events in Sussex such as the Sussex People's History March and unemployed demonstrations.
print location: BFI


PRIMROSE ALLEY GETS ITS WAY (ca. 1958) - a film (16 mins.) about the pollution by cement of the hop gardens of Kent, shot by amateur film maker Beverley Robinson.
print location: BFI

PRISONERS PROVE INTERVENTION IN SPAIN (1938) - interviews with Italians and Germans taken prisoner by the Republicans in Spain, filmed with a hidden camera by Ivor Montagu, proving conclusively that the Non-Intervention agreement was violated by Germany and Italy; this is an abridged version (lasting 5 mins.) of TESTIMONY OF NON-INTERVENTION.
print location: BFI

PROCESSION IN COMMEMORATION OF CALTON WEAVERS 1787 (1957) - a report (6 mins.), produced by the Dawn Cine Group, of the commemoration of the Calton Weavers by the Glasgow Trades Council.
print location: SCA

RHONDDA DEPRESSION YEARS (1935) - incomplete print (11 mins.) of a silent film shot in 1935 by Donald Alexander and Judy Birdwood in the Rhondda Fach, where the former stayed in CP councillor Jim Morton's home; shots of housing conditions; miners on their way to a protest meeting.
print location: BFI

ROBERT SMILLIE CENTENARY DEMONSTRATION (1957) - a report (6 mins.), produced by the Dawn Cine Group, of the Robert Smillie Centenary Demonstration on Saturday 8 June 1957 and the naming of a park for him.
print location: SCA

RUSSIAN DANCERS IN LONDON/FOLK FESTIVAL 1935 - silent film of Russian folk dancers appearing in London; originally this was an item in WORKERS NEWSREEL NO.4, produced by the Workers' Film & Photo League.
print location: BFI ETV collection

[SCOTTISH CND PROTEST] (early 1960s) - colour footage (2 mins.) shot by Hugh Dunlop of Scottish CND marchers during a protest against Polaris.
print location: SCA

[ST. PANCRAS TENANTS DEMONSTRATIONS] (1950s) - footage (10 mins.) of tenants demonstrations and meetings at St. Pancras Town Hall.
print location: BFI ETV collection

SMITH, OUR FRIEND (1948) - a silent film made by Walter Lassally and Derek York, telling the story of a demobilised soldier who, after returning to his bombed-out slum house in the East End and getting nowhere with the housing authorities, joins the squatters of the Ivanhoe Hotel in Bloomsbury.
print location: private collection

SPANISH ABC (1938) - sound film (18 mins.) made by Ivor Montagu's Progressive Film Institute for the Spanish Republican Government (directed by Sidney Cole).
print location: BFI

STOP FASCISM 1937 - silent footage (3 mins.) of anti-fascist demonstrations.
print location: BFI ETV collection

SUSSEX 1939 [PEOPLE'S SCRAPBOOK 1939] (1939) - a newsreel (10 mins.), filmed with 9.5mm equipment by local CPGB members and sympathisers, of various events in Sussex such as May Day 1939 and the second Sussex People's History March.
print location: BFI

TESTIMONY OF NON-INTERVENTION (1938) - interviews (33 mins.) with Italians and Germans taken prisoner by the Republicans in Spain, filmed with a hidden camera by Ivor Montagu, proving conclusively that the Non-Intervention agreement was violated by Germany and Italy; an abridged version was released as PRISONERS PROVE INTERVENTION IN SPAIN.
print location: BFI

TOM MANN'S 80TH BIRTHDAY 1936 - a silent film shot by J.E. Richardson of the birthday party in honour of Tom Mann.
print location: BFI ETV collection


UNVEILING OF THE KARL MARX MEMORIAL (1956) - sound film (10 mins.) produced by Plato Films but never released in Great Britain; it was financed by the Socialist countries through the services of Andrew Rothstein, who appears alongside Harry Pollitt, Arthur Horner and J.D. Bernal to speak at the occasion of the unveiling of the memorial in Highgate Cemetery.
print location: BFI ETV collection

[VISIT TO SOVIET UNION] (1959-60) - report (5 mins.), possibly made by Charlie Bukelis, of a visit to the Soviet Union by a group of British delegates, including a display of a national dance and the laying of flowers on a memorial.
print location: SCA

WE ARE THE ENGLISH (1936) - a film record (8 mins.) of the History Pageant organised by the London District of the CPGB on Sunday 20 September 1936, showing the procession and its banners covering events from the Magna Carta to the Spanish Civil War.
print location: BFI

WE SPEAK FOR OUR CHILDREN (1952) - a film made by Beverley Robinson in support of a campaign against the closure of day nurseries in Kent.
print location: BFI

WE WHO ARE YOUNG (1952) - a report (32 mins.) in black and white and colour, produced by the New Era Film Club, of the Youth Peace Festival during the Whitsun weekend of 1952 in Sheffield.
print location: BFI

[WILLIE GALLACHER AND FUNERAL] (1961-65) - 8mm footage shot by Scottish Communist and amateur film maker William McQuilken of the eightieth birthday celebrations of Willie Gallacher in St. Andrew's Halls, Glasgow, followed by shots of the funeral procession for Gallacher in Paisley.
print location: SCA

WORKERS' NEWSREEL NO.1 (1934) - silent newsreel (10 mins.) produced by Kino, showing the Daily Worker Gala in Plumstead, the building of a new store for the London Co-operative Society, the Hendon Air-Display, the Youth Anti-War Congress in Sheffield and the anti-war demonstration in Hyde Park in August.
print location: BFI

WORKERS' NEWSREEL NO.2 (1934) - silent newsreel (15 mins.) produced by Kino, showing the anti-fascist demonstrations in Hyde Park on 9 September, the removal by the police of a 'Free Thaelmann' banner on the Strand, the Gresford Colliery Disaster and the anti-fascist sports rally in Paris.
print location: BFI

WORKERS' NEWSREEL NO.3 [THE UAB FILM] (1935) - silent newsreel (15 mins.), produced by the Workers' Film and Photo League, of a demonstration in Hyde Park against the Government's policy of providing relief to the unemployed through Unemployed Assistance Boards (UAB's).
print location: BFI

WORKERS' NEWSREEL NO.4 (1935) - silent newsreel (15 mins.), produced by the Workers' Film and Photo League, with items on the ILP Summer School in Letchworth, the 1935 May Day March, Soviet Folk Dancers in London and Tom Mann's visit to a Pioneer's camp.
print location: BFI

WORKERS TOPICAL NEWS NO.1 (1930) - silent newsreel (5 mins.), produced for the Federation of Workers' Film Societies, showing a demonstration on Tower Hill organised by the National Unemployed Workers' Movement on the occasion of Unemployment Day 1930.
print location: BFI

WORKERS TOPICAL NEWS NO.2 (1930) - silent newsreel (12 mins.), produced for the Federation of Workers' Film Societies, showing the Hunger Marchers on their way to London and the 1930 May Day demonstration including close shots of Irish freedom fighter Mrs. Charlotte Despard and former Communist MP Shapurji Saklatvala.
print location: BFI


YOU ARE THE LION (1957) - a film protesting at the rearmament of the Federal Republic of Germany, made by Beverley Robinson.
print location: BFI

YOUTH PEACE PILGRIMAGE 1939 - silent film (9 mins.) of a peace march by members of the Labour Party League, the Co-operative Societies and various youth groups, culminating in a meeting in Trafalgar Square; among those shown are Charles Gibson, John Gollan, Bill Carritt, Denis Healey and Ted Willis.
print location: BFI ETV collection


Some notable artists and graphic designers were involved in producing material for the CPGB. A comprehensive study of the relationship between the Party and its artists, and those close to it, remains to be written (but see the chapters by Radford and Wallis in A Weapon in the Struggle for fascinating studies of the “Three Jameses” and political pageants respectively). This is not the place for such a work, but I have taken advantage of the time spent studying the contents of thousands of pamphlets and journals to try to identify some of the artists who designed the covers. In this project I was helped immensely by Paul Hogarth and others who will find my gratitude expressed in the acknowledgements. These are tentative first steps, but it may encourage others who are better qualified to follow this up.
The first problem is that most of the covers are anonymous, as were a lot of the authors of the pamphlets. They were published quickly, often to fit in with a topical campaign and not intended to be works of art or collectors’ items. Even if the designers were well known artists, the drawing for a cover would be seen as a political task, a contribution for which they would receive neither payment nor recognition, nor, maybe, thanks. But this contribution would no doubt be given gladly; the artist would be part of a collective on equal terms with the author, printer, literature secretary and branch activist who sold the final product. If a striking cover helped sales, the artist was satisfied.
In the early days of the Party, the role of the artist was played down – the best contribution any intellectual or artist could make was to become a proletarian and work in a factory. With the advent of the Popular Front and the end of the worst period of sectarianism in the early/mid 1930s, the artists came into their own. They began to be appreciated as artists and were asked to work politically among other artists. In the pre-war period the CP artists formed the Hogarth Group (named after William not Paul!) which became the Communist Artists’ Group in 1947, a sub-group of the Cultural Committee.
This was the period of the Artists’ International (later becoming the Artists’ International Association), in which CP artists worked with many of the country’s leading artists on a progressive, anti-fascist platform. The divisions between “fine artists” and designers, critics and lecturers disappeared in the exhibitions and journals of the AIA. Many artists and designers worked on banners for trade unions, the International Brigade (James Lucas did two – a new version when the first one was captured), for pageants and congresses. There were traditional exhibitions of watercolours and oils, but many turned their hand to quicker, more ephemeral styles that reflected the urgency of the political situation. Publicity material from all left-wing organisations became more imaginative, and this is reflected in the pamphlets, where cartoonists in particular produced much outstanding work.
It was with the onset of the Cold War that the CP turned in on itself more, and the broad alliances of the 1930s and war period fell apart. In 1956 many artists left the Party and it was only in the mid 1970s that the Party leadership again began to make use of the creative abilities of many of its members.
Even during the best period of the 1930s, probably a majority of pamphlets were not only anonymous, but deserve to stay that way. The 1950s to 1970s saw a mass of poor and unimaginative designs, with the occasional exception, so we are considering a minority of those produced. The final period was characterised by a huge variety of styles, of widely differing quality.

The best pamphlets in the 1920s are characterised by either superb typography and small but high quality abstract detailing, or Soviet inspired cartoons. Francis Meynell, an early editor of The Communist for a short period in the early 1920s, was a key figure in the design world. The Communist printing presses – Pelican Press and Dorritt Press – continued a tradition of fine printing and design from an earlier period. These pamphlets and journals have a traditional, serious even slightly bourgeois look about them; even the quality of the paper is high – one has the impression that no attention was given to cost ("Moscow gold" may have helped here) and that they were produced in a rather rarefied atmosphere. Later, the work of the Communist printer Allen Hutt was to receive national recognition.
The two major cartoonists of the 1920s were Will Hope, who used the pen name “Espoir”, and Michael Boland who signed his work for many years as “Michael”. Here I must thank Kevin Morgan for noting, while working in the Moscow archives, a passing reference in the Political Bureau minutes from June 1928 to the appointment of Michael Boland as official cartoonist for the CPGB papers. “Michael”’s cartoons are like the early Soviet ones with strong proletarian figures sweeping away the clergy and capitalists; they are similar to Kustodiev’s stirring depiction of a worker smashing his chains on the cover of Communist International. They appear dated and stereotyped now, but they combine a vigour and even a hint of violence with a lightness of touch that also lent itself to caricature of individual politicians. They are by far the best of this style by any British artist. Will Hope’s cartoon’s are more subtle, more humorous but still on the dark side; they rely more on text and are more British in tone. J F Horrabin was in the CP till 1925 and drew some material for the Party; after he left, he continued to draw cartoons, and maps, for many left-wing journals, notably Plebs, and had a very distinguished career.
The second half of the 1930s was something of a golden period for the CP artists. The “Three Jameses” provided some of the best political cartoons and drawings of the century. James Boswell, James Holland and James Fitton all became very successful commercial artists in the advertising industry and there are still periodic exhibitions of their work, especially that of Boswell. Boswell has been described by the critic William Fever as “one of the finest graphic artists of the twentieth century”. There were two other James as well: James Friell who, from 1936, was the famous DW cartoonist under the pen name of “Gabriel” and James Lucas. Lucas was apparently the most modest of this group, and perhaps the most political, and he hardly ever signed his work, making identification extremely difficult. His large engraving for the cover of the earliest copies of The Country Standard is a masterpiece, even if the occasional figure is a bit wooden. His work is dramatic and original.
Like William Gropper in the US, the caricatures of Boswell and Fitton are strongly influenced by George Grosz, and their best work equals that of the famous German satirist. But they could vary their styles, while never wholly adopting the Socialist Realism that some CP functionaries expected of them following the line from the Soviet Union. They could also turn to a constructivist style if required. All three did work for Left Review (not strictly speaking a CP journal), Martin Lawrence, and the AIA. Boswell (he also signed some of his drawings “Buchan”) did more covers and cartoons for Party pamphlets than the others.
Cliff Rowe was another leading Communist artist of this period. He had worked in Moscow designing dust jackets for the Foreign Language Publishing House, and he also made a career in advertising back in England. He worked in a more pictorial tradition, but was dismissive of Socialist Realism – he was more influenced by Leger’s modernism. His subject matter was largely of factories and men and women at work. Tom Poulton was another well known artist in the 1930s who did at least three covers (scraperboard) for the CP, all of very high quality. Poulton was lucky to be invited by Francis Meynell to do illustrations for the Nonesuch Press, one of the finest small presses in the country. One of these illustrations, for Plutarch’s Lives, shows his wife Diana (who was at one time the manager of Lawrence and Wishart) and another comrade, Eleanor Singer, as nymphs fondling the benevolent satyr’s head of Meynell.
Ronald Horton was a founder member of the Party in Brighton and brother of the more famous Percy (himself a pacifist during WW1 and a long-standing sympathiser of the CP). Ronald produced material for the labour movement in Brighton, for the Spanish Medical Aid Committee and did cartoons for Workers' Life, Workers Weekly and Young Comrade but I cannot trace any pamphlet covers by him. This is surprising given his life-long commitment to the CP, his recognition as an artist and his role in the art world in general (trainer of art teachers, collector, AIA organiser, developer of links with artists from the Socialist countries).
The quality of some of these artists was noted at the time by Howard Wadman in an article in the Summer 1937 issue of Typography. One designer he picked out was Alec Anderson who designed the Peace Library series. Anderson also designed The Eye, until he went to fight in Spain in 1936. This irregular broadsheet journal, published as “The Martin Lawrence Gazette” (and then the “Lawrence and Wishart Gazette”) for 8 issues is, stylistically, one of the most innovative publications the CP was associated with. Characterised by a superb range of typography, dramatic use of space, and photomontage, it was also a serious review magazine of left-wing books.
Other notable artists included Pearl Binder, a pupil of Fitton, who also drew for Left Review as well as becoming a prolific book illustrator, specialising in life in the East End of London. Binder, together with Misha Black, Viscount (Jack) Hastings, (who did the famous mural in Marx House), and Peggy Angus were all active in the AIA and members of the CP. I can find no credited illustrations by any of these artists in the CP pamphlets, but Angus did cartoons for the women’s page of the Daily Worker. It is quite possible that Black did some of the photomontage designs on the pamphlets, judging by the techniques he used in, for instance, the dustwrapper of John Sommerfield’s Mayday published by Lawrence and Wishart.
The Daily Worker provided many artists with the opportunity for publication. Pat Carpenter produced some excellent cartoons under the name of “Patrick” in the late 1930s. During the war, Bill Bland was another artist who produced some equally effective cartoons, and there were also some good ones by “Richards” whom I have not been able to identify.
Challenge asked readers to send in cartoons in the early years of the war and this provided the opportunity for Priscilla Thorneycroft and Elisabeth Shaw to be published, possibly for the first time. Shaw produced some unusual cartoon posters for the CP during the war in a rather whimsical style reminiscent of nineteenth century children’s' books, and she did go on to a successful career in book illustration in the GDR. Al Jackson was another very competent artist who sent in his drawings and he became the regular cartoonist for the paper.
One artist, signed “Miles”, deserves mention. He, or she, did half a dozen covers for the Party in Wales between 1937 and 1948. Miles may well be the real name, but nobody knows any more about this person, which is a pity, as these are some of the most striking covers of the period. A pamphlet published in October 1942 describes the South Wales District premises in Cardiff: "A glass-roofed conservatory has been converted into a studio for the poster-artist" - was this for Miles?
The emphasis here is on painters and graphic artists who worked on CP pamphlets, so many individuals have not been mentioned. No photographers have been identified either; there were a few decent photomontages in the 1930s, and there was a small group of pamphlets in the mid 1930s with very striking photographic covers – one (on a pamphlet entitled Forward) of Pollitt which portrays him almost as a film star, with its dramatic lighting is possibly by Howard Coster, who did work for The Eye. A similar photo exists of T A Jackson in The Eye (No.5, 1936). Edith Tudor-Hart, one of the best photographers of the period, did photographs for the CP publishing house, but, again, none of her work can be identified in the pamphlets. Other photographers in the CP at this time included Helen Musprat and Margaret Monk.(? ?)

The war dispersed many of these artists. A younger generation came through after the war, including Paul Hogarth, Francis Minns (these two artists worked together at Shell when Boswell was art director there), Ray Watkinson, Ern Brooks, Barbara Niven, and Ken Sprague. All these artists produced covers for pamphlets (and other work) for the Party; and most were also active in the AIA (Niven, Brooks and Hogarth in Manchester before moving to London). Hogarth went on to enjoy a very successful international career as a book illustrator and became a member of the RA. Watkinson, Brooks and Sprague produced material for the Party for decades, while Barbara Niven gave up a promising artistic career to work for the CP, for many years as fund raiser for the Daily Worker (another artist, Clive Branson, had, briefly, made a similar move in the 1930s). The dilemma that most left-wing artists faced of not being able to make a living from their left-wing art and not wanting to produce luxury goods for rich collectors did lead some to stop painting, or concentrate on agit-prop work.
Reg Turner, who was taught by Lucas at Plymouth, was another painter (like Brooks and others), who did dustwrappers for Party publishing firms but did not sign any pamphlet covers, unless he is the person who signed himself “R.T.”, which is quite possible. He had done some covers for Challenge in January 1938.
Recognition of the importance of some of these artists is reflected in Alan Horne’s The Dictionary of Twentieth Century British Book Illustrators (Antique Collectors’ Club, 1994), the standard reference work. Binder, Boswell, Paxton Chadwick, Fitton, Hogarth, Holland and Poulton all get entries, some with reference to their political views.
There was a cartoonist from the Daily Worker who has remained anonymous till now. “Dyad” was popular during the war period, and continued drawing for many years afterwards, but not even responsible figures at the newspaper knew his name – his cartoons arrived daily in an unmarked envelope. He was Wilfrid Paffard, a BBC engineer who was probably not in the CP, who apparently did not want his links with the paper known. (Thanks to Sid Brown for this information).
There was a stylistic move away from the harshness of the 1930s with its strident class caricatures. In Hogarth’s work, for example, while there was no lowering in the level of political commitment, the subjects were often positive images of workers in the Socialist countries. And in his career he remained true to his vocation of artist as reporter. The debate on Realism which echoed in CP and AIA material for many years, was calmer and the traditionalists got the upper hand – especially with the stronger line from the CPSU in the late 1940s. There was much less of an experimental nature.
Many pamphlets reflect the style associated with the Festival of Britain; crisp, light, pleasant, “modern” in a way that was not too challenging, but given the hardships of the war years and indeed of the post-war years, this was not surprising. In fact, three key members of the AIA had leading roles in the Festival design team: Holland, Black, and Henrion.
1956 dealt a heavy blow to the CP’s influence among artists, and many left including Hogarth and Friell.
The artist who dominated CP visual materials during this period was David Caplan, who usually signed himself “Davy”. At times he appeared to have a monopoly, and between roughly 1950 and 1970 it was difficult for younger artists to get a look in. He was competent, sometimes dull, occasionally very good – a safe pair of hands - but not as inspiring as his predecessors.
The Daily Worker cartooonist "Eccles" (Frank Brown - one of three brothers who worked for the paper) first drew cartoons for Challenge in 1948 and was the Party's main cartoonist for many years, replacing "Gabriel" in 1956.
There were no illustrators of note in the final years of the CP as far as national pamphlets were concerned. Locally, the skills of members might be used - for instance on Merseyside most journals and pamphlets from the mid 1970s onwards have cartoons by Pete Betts. More work remain to be done researching local material.


1. William Gallacher “An Appeal for Unity (Souvenir Record)” Celebrates his election in 1935.
“The United Front Song” (Hans Eisler) Daily Worker Choir
Issued by The Workers’ Bookshop, 38 Clerkenwell Green. EB193-1 (EB1216); EB194-1 (EB1217)

2. London Labour Choral Union Conducted by Alan Bush
“Song of the Hunger Marchers” (words Randall Swingler; music Alan Bush”)
“Patrol & Speech”
Issued by The Workers’ Bookshop, 38 Clerkenwell Green. 1936 L2150; L2151

3. London Labour Choral Union Conducted by A Bush
“ May Day Song”
“The Red Flag”
Issued by The Workers’ Bookshop, 38 Clerkenwell Green. c1936

4. Harry Pollitt “Extract of Speech” Mass Rally, Empress Stadium, London 6 Nov 1938
Unity Male Voice Choir conducted by John Goss “Red Cavalry Song” (D & D Pokrass) Same Rally.
Russia Today Society Ltd. GC24; GC23

FACTORY PAPERS – not traced

Abertillery Searchlight Wales Mines
Anti-Jelco NW Manchester YCL?
Bedwas Rebel Wales Mines
Bellerton Lamp ? 28 May 1932 (PO July/Aug 1936;
Blaenclydach Bomb Wales Mines
Blantyre Ferme Scotland Lanarkshire Pit Group No.1(Sept?)
Bobbin Scotland Dundee, jute workers (WL 26.7.29)
Bowhill Searchlight Scotland West Fife; Mines (PO July/Aug 1932)
Bullcroft Searchlight Yorks (WW 6.3.26;WL 25.2.27;WL 30.12.27)
Buzzer Northern Harraton Communist Pit Group, Durham
(WL 25.3.27)
Cadby Ripper Yorks Sheffield; Mines (No.1 June 1930)
Colwick Call East Midlands Colwick Rail Depot (No.1 Jan 1931)
Cottonwood Critic ? Cottonwood Militant Miners’ Pit Group (June
1931) (Frow)
Courage London Idris Communist Group (No.1, 8.4.25)
(Frow; JK)
Cowlair’s Worker Scot Cowlair’s Railwaymen’s Factory Cell, Glasgow
(Dec 1930) (Frow)
Crane Northern Palmer’s Shipyard Communist Group (WW
Crawpicker Scotland Glencraig, Fife (WL 27.5.27)
Crossley Motor NW 1929 Crossley Motor Works, Gorton M/c
(MacColl p.182)
Crystal, The NW Ward and Goldstone's, Salford. (The CP in
Manchester, 1920-26).
Cwmparc Chipper Wales Mines
Cymmer Bomb Wales Mines
Dawn Scotland Parkhead Group CP (Frow;JK)
Dowble Unit or DOUBLE Scotland Kelby Pit Group (April 1928)
Dry Hatch National Seamen, monthly (J Mahon 1926)
Dumb Mill Loudspeaker Yorks Shipley (WW 26.2.26)
Farsley Mill Worker Yorkshire Farsley (WL 25.11.27)
Ferranti Spark NW Ferranti Works, Hollinwood nr. M/c (Frow)
Flame Scotland East Fife Issued by Michael Militant
Miners 1932 (PO July-Aug 1932; Militant Miners; Frow)
Flash Wales
Force YCL
Forge ? Communist Group, Pearson & Knowles Ltd (1925) (Frow;JK)
Fryston Star Yorks Communist Pit Group Paper, Castleford
(WL 25.3.27; WW 4.3.27 & Wilde)
Gas Appliance NW Manchester (The CP in Manchester, 1920-26).
Glasshoughton Dog and Chain Yorks Castleford (Wilde)
Gorton Tank NW Manchester. (The CP in Manchester, 1920-26).
Gun Northern Communist Group at Armstrong
Whitworths, Newcastle (Frow; WL 27.5.27; WW
Hammer Scotland West Fife c1930? (Militant Miners)
Harrington Buzzer Northern Communist Pit Group, Durham (WL
Headlamp Scotland Militant Group of Priory Miners, Blantyre, Lanarkshire (Frow)
Heatherington's Searchlight NW 6/7 issues in edition of c300 produced by David
Ainley. (The CP in Manchester, 1920-26).
Huddersfield Millworker Yorkshire (WL 25.11.27)
Keighley Millworker Yorkshire (WL 25.11.27)
Lamp Scotland Cowdenbeath Local (WL 30.12.27)
Lamp Scotland East Fife Mines c1930? (Militant
Miners; Frow)
Lewis Merthyr Bulletin Wales 1925? Mines
Listers Rebel Yorkshire Listers' Communist Group, Bradford (WL
Live Wire NW Metro-Vick, Manchester Engineering (WL
Llanbradach Liberator Wales Mines
LMS Rebel Midlands Derby (Frow; DW 8.6.32; WG 1657)
Lochee Mill Worker Scotland Cox Brothers' jute works, Dundee
(WL 17.6.27; WW 4.3.27)
Lump Scotland Cowdenbeath, Fife (WL 27.5.27)
Malvern Rebel Shuttle ? (No.1, July 1931) (Frow)
Manningham Red Comet Yorkshire Communist Mill Group, Bradford
(WL 25.11.27 &
Mash Scotland West Fife Mines c1930? (Militant
Midland Red Star Yorks Midland Busmen, Bradford (WL 25.11.27)
Mell Northern Tyneside (WL 2.7.29)
Mersey Docker NW (Frow)
Mitchell’s Main Weigh Yorkshire Wombwell Communist Group (Frow)
Money Wage Slave ? (Frow)
Mount Street Rebel Yorkshire Bradford (WL 25.11.27)
Motor NW Crossley Motor Lads Group, Manchester
Naval Pilot Wales Penygraig
Newton Slave Pen Scotland Glasgow (Frow)
North Star West Swindon CP Railwaymen (Frow; WG 2454)
Nunnery Flatsheet Yorks 1929 (Frow)
Patricroft Firebox NW Rail/Engineering (Edmund Frow by R Frow)
Pegswood Searchlight Northern Pegswood Communist Pit Group,
Northumberland (WL 8.4.27)
Pet Yorkshire Allerton Communist Pit Group,
Castleford (WL 25.3.27; Frow)
Platt Worker NW Platt Communist Group, Oldham (Frow)
Projectile London Communist Cell (Frow)
Punch ? Organ of the Southern Railway Workers (JK)
Railway Rebel Midlands Birmingham (WL 30.12.27)
Railwaymen's Special NW Liverpool (WL 26.7.29)
Rawlings Truth ? (Frow; JK)
Rebel Yorks, Listers’ Group, Bradford
Rebel Wales Mines
Red Miner Wales Mines
Red Star Mid Birmingham (WL 5.8.27)
Rebel Miner Scotland Rosehill Pit, Lanarkshire Mines (No.9,
20.11.25) (Frow)
Risehow Rebel North West CP Pit Group, Risehow, Cumberland
(WL 8.7.27)
Rolls Royce Rebel ? (Frow)
Searchlight ? Imperial Tube Works Communist Group 1929?
Searchlight Scotland Bowhill Militant Miners’ Group
(8.4.32) (Frow)
Siddick Cetawayo Cumberland (WL 8.7.27 which explains unusual name)
Shipley Millworker Yorkshire Shipley (Frow; WL 25.11.27)
Shot Box Northern Blackhall, Durham Mines (WL 30.12.27)
Shotton Purger Durham (WL 1.4.27; Frow)
Shovel Scotland Fauldhouse Militant Miners’ Group
(Dec 1930) West Lothian (Frow)
Six Bells Wales Mines
Spark NW 1925
Spark ? Crookbottom Textile Workers 1932 (DW)
Spark Durham Ryhope Miners’ Group (Aug 1929)
Spondon Star East Midlands Derby (Aug 1929) (Frow)
Spring To For Better Conditions NW Spring & Axle Workers, W E Carey’s
Works, Red Bank, M/c No.2 26.2.32 (Frow; WG)
Stannersgate Star Scotland Dundee shipyard workers (WL 26.7.29). Was
this a continuation of Brass Check ? And is it a mis-
spelling of Stannergate?
Star East Midlands Pleasley (WW 6.3.26)
Star ? Kings Green Depot Railwaymen (July 1925)
Sugar Factory Workers’ Guide London North Woolwich (Frow; JK) Possibly
not CP
Sunbeam Spark Mid Sunbeam Communist Group, Wolverhampton
Sunbeam Speed Mid Sunbeam Communist Group, Wolverhampton
(WL 22.7.27)
Taff Merthyr Star Wales
Textile Picker Scot Dundee (Frow)
Transport Worker NW Liverpool Communist Docks Group (No.6 in WL
Underworld Scotland Kirkcaldy Pit Group 1925 (Militant
Upton Wedge Yorks Upton Miners’ Militant Group (No.2 Feb
1932) (Frow)
Wedge Northern Easington, Durham March 1927
(WL 1.4.27; Frow)
Wheldale Buzzer Yorks March 1927 (WL 1.4.27)
Workers’ Voice Northern Militant Workers, Billibton Factory,
Stockton-on-Tees (Frow)
Young Rebel London? YCL? (1925) Young Workers at the General
Gas Appliances Co. (Frow; JK)
Young Woodworker YCL


DW Daily Worker
Frow R & E Frow Pit & Factory Papers Issued by the CP, 1927-34
Self published. 1996
JK J Klugmann History of the CPGB, Vol.2 p 341
MacColl Journeyman by Ewan MacColl Sidgwick & Jackson 1990
J Mahon 1926 John Mahon Report to Factory Group Dept. 1926
Militant Miners Militant Miners ed. I MacDougall Polygon 1981
PO Party Organiser
WG Warwick Guide to British Labour Periodicals
Wilde Arthur Wilde The Biggest Battle is Yet to Come B Lewis & D
Prudhoe 1980
WL Workers' Life
WW Workers’ Weekly


Vast majority of the CP material is located in three libraries, all easily accessible. These are: the People's History Museum, 103 Princess Street, Manchester M1 6DD (formally the National Museum of Labour History); Marx Memorial Library, 37a Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0DU; the Working Class Movement Library, Jubilee House, 51 Crescent, Salford, M5 4WX. These libraries also contain much material about the CP. The People's History Museum contains the CPGB Archives which has the most systematic collection. The William Gallacher Collection, the Scottish CP’s library, in Glasgow Caledonian University Library, is a major source of Scottish material. All these libraries are in the process of putting their collections onto computerised databases, but I did most of my research before this started and I am deeply indebted to those librarians who gave me full access to their stock, and this bibliography would not have been possible without it.
My own collection built up over many years was another source. Other important collections are in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the Modern Records Centre at Warwick University, The South Wales Miners’ Library at University of Wales Swansea, Methil Public Library, and the British Library including the Newspaper Library at Colindale.
I am listing all the collections that I consulted, all of which revealed some useful material, in the hope that this will not only point researchers in the right direction for obtaining access to items in this bibliography, but may indicate - through absence in this list - sources that I have missed.
British Library
British Library of Political & Economic Science at the London School of Economics.
East Sussex Record Office, Lewes Archive of Ernie Trory; Papers of Percy Horton; Papers of Ronald Horton.
Edinburgh University MacDiarmid Papers
Glasgow Mitchell Library
Glasgow Caledonian University Taylor Collection
Glasgow, Strathclyde University, Andersonian Library Aldred Collection
Glasgow University
Hull University, Brymor Jones Library DCP - Hull CP Records; DAR - Page Arnot Papers;
DHH – Howard Hill Papers; DJH – Jock Haston Papers; DBN – Reginald Bridgeman Papers.
Methil Public Library, Fife David Proudfoot Papers; Hutt Collection (a rich collection of letters and early pit papers in a small urban branch library).
Modern Records Collection, University of Warwick Miscellaneous Papers (MSS 21); London Busmen’s Rank & File Movement (MSS 62); Tarbuck Papers (MSS 75); Militant Miners Newsheets (MSS 88); Purdie Papers (149); National Union of Seamen (Rank & File Organisations) (MSS 175); Reg Groves Papers (MSS 172); J Askins Papers (MSS 189); Etheridge Papers (MSS 202); Michaelson Papers (MSS 233); Times Labour Editor’s Papers (MSS 271); L Daly Papers (MSS 302); R Croucher Papers (MSS 180); TUC Papers (MSS 292).
National Library of Scotland
National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth Dept. of Manuscripts and Records Papers of: Idris Cox; Benjamin Davies; Selwyn Jones; Gwenffrwd Hughes; Ty Cenedl
Oxford, Bodleian Library John Johnson Papers; Douglas Garman Papers
Oxford County Library
Oxford, Ruskin College Library Abe Lazarus Collection
Sheffield Central Library
Sheffield University Lazar Zaidman Collection
Stirling University Watson Collection; Tait Collection
Swansea University College From Guide to South Wales Coalfield Archive, 1980: Papers of: NUM; J Davies (Neath); David Francis; W Eddie Jones (Cwmbran); H Morgan (Abertillery). From Supplementary Guide, 1983: Papers of Jim David (Seven Sisters); Glyn Evans (Garnant); David Francis (2nd Deposit); J S Williams (Dowlais). From Web Page Guide: papers of Amos Mouls; Selwyn Jones. Special Collections. Also the South Wales Miners’ Library – strong collection on CP.
TUC Library, University of North London.