Monday, August 6, 2012

Left Book Club Edition

I bet somewhere in Britain there is a room that has every Left Book Club publication on the shelves. The red hardback editions (1938-1948), and I have just one, and an obscure one at that. "The Smaller Democracies" 1939 by Sir Ernest Simon. Only picked it up 'cos he lived in Didsbury and a former Liberal MP for this constituency. Also a softback edition in orange (1936-1938) called "Spanish Testament" by Arthur Koestler. Original prices were 2/6d (12.5p)

This brings us on to “The Co-operative Movement in Labour Britain,” edited for the Fabian Society by Noah Barou, Ph.D. (Econ.) and published by Victor Gollancz Ltd., of London, for the Left Book Club in 1948. It's just an excuse to find a Left Book Club and a Co-Op connection.

The heydays of the Left Book Club are from its formation in 1936 and into the WWII. Unashamedly left leaning propaganda. Well you weren't going to find that "Bolshie" talk on the BBC Home Service or printed in the bourgeoisie press. Nor where you going to find them officially supported at Labour Party meetings. It was seen as a "popular front" organisation and that meant the Communist Party members would be involve. I have yet to find any local Co-Operative Guild or Co-Op Party meetings about the Left Book Club, though that doesn't mean there weren't any. There were Left Book Discussion meetings in Chorlton before WWII but not at Hardy Lane.

Not read this book as I don't have a copy nor is available online. But I'm almost tempted to obtain a second hand copy out of curiosity. Dr. N. Barou also wrote about "Co-operation in the Soviet Union" 1946, "British Trade Unions" 1947, and "Co-operative Insurance" 1936, "World Co-operation 1844-1944", plus numerous other books. Even more curious after having read Noah Barou's obituary - born 23 November 1889 Poltava, Ukraine died 5th September 1955 in London....exiled by the Tsarist regime, spoke at meetings with Trotsky, and head of the Moscow Narodny Bank in London. Though he's best remembered for his tireless work for the Jewish World Congress.

Note the "Not For Sale To The Public" on the front cover. This was part of the agreement with the Booksellers Association and the Publishers Association which regulated how the way Book Clubs operated. The Left Book Club was the most successful of the 1930's political book clubs. The others Labour Book Service, Liberal Book Club and Right Book Club published titles too.

Year ago there was a second hand bookshop on Beech Road in Chorlton and they had a lot of those thin hardback Left Book Club editions. But harder to find now. If you interested try Abe Books to find second hand books and their sellers online.


Andrew Simpson said...

Well Lawrence I'm off down the celaar to check out my collection see if it is there

lorenzo23 said...

Hope your old copies have not fallen to bits. Pity all this stuff isn't available for my Kindle

You can email : coop AT with any information that will help in the making of this history.