Tom Brown

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syndicalist
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May 6 2008 19:14
Tom Brown

Hello,

Does anyone know if a proper full-length biography of Tom Brown was ever done?

Solidarity greetings.

syndicalist
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May 7 2008 13:31

Ah, different Tom Brown.

The Tom Brown I'm asking about is the former SWF militant, propagandist and writer. See http://libcom.org/tags/tom-brown

Thanks anyway.

gwry
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May 7 2008 19:05

No, I don't think so. When he died his family threw away everything pertaining to his political activity. There was, I believe a partly completed autobiography amongst these papers. He had lived in Paddington, west London towards the end of his life. The best sources are Meltzer's "Anarchists in London 1930-1970 (?)", and the biographical sketch in the collection of his writings which appeared in the 1980's.

syndicalist
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May 8 2008 13:28

Thanks Gerry. Yeah, I'm familiar with with Albert's and the Intro to Tom Brown's "Syndicalism" book. I was hoping there was more.

You mean all his papers were simply thrown in the bin? Nothng donated to a library, etc.? Wow. They must've lost their tolerance for Tom's activities. What a pity.

syndicalist
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May 8 2008 14:20

This is the best I can come up with on stuff from the old SWF and National Rank & File Movement.

Anything and anywhere else to look?

--mitch

From: Syndicalist Workers Federation (UK) Archivesat ISSH, Amsterdam
Period: 1960-1973 (-1986)

... 10770738_EAD Syndicalist Workers Federation (UK) Archives 1960-1973 (-1986) International Institute of Social History Cruquiusweg 31 1019 AT Amsterdam The Netherlands Description is in eng 14 juni 2004 PUBLIC"-//Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis//TEXT(NL::List of the archives of the SYNDICALIST WORKERS' FEDERATION 1960-1973 (-1986)//NL""10770738.sgm" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15). Descriptive Summary Syndicalist Workers Federation (UK) Archives 1960-1973 (-1986) Syndicalist Workers Federation (UK) 0.6 m. eng International Institute of Social ...

http://search.iisg.nl/search/search?action=transform&col=archives&xsl=archives-detail.xsl&lang=en&docid=10770738_EAD

wojtek
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Aug 16 2012 01:41

Some more info:

The Burnley Voice: Tom Brown & British Syndicalism

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Kate Sharpley
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Nov 2 2018 19:02

this went in issue 96 of the KSL bulletin:

The missing memoirs of Tom Brown, Tyneside syndicalist
Tom Brown was a lifelong syndicalist, promoting ‘the grassroots organisation of the workers in action, bending employers, union bosses and the State to its will’.[1] Born in Newcastle, the search for work took him to the West Midlands and London. Eventually, he retired to Gateshead with his wife Lily and wrote his memoirs. Unfortunately, the manuscript was borrowed by ‘two visiting female American academics whom he had met either at or in connection with the Durham Miners Gala’ – and never returned.[2]

Brown’s surviving articles frequently draw on his own experiences. ‘School for syndicalism’ recalls his earliest memories of factory work; ‘Into battle with the bazooka bands’ mentions moving back to County Durham after the defeat of the 1926 General Strike.[3] He wrote a pamphlet on the strike: ‘Lions led by rats’ sums up his view of what went wrong.[4] At least one American student interviewed him about the General Strike.[5] Might that be what the Mysterious Americans were interested in?

If you know the current location of his memoirs, or you can tell us something that would help to track them down, we’d be glad to hear from you.
Notes

1, ‘Story of the Syndicalist Workers’ Federation: Born in Struggle’ From: Direct Action February 1968, at https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/wdbt17
2, Details from Mark Hendy
3, See https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/xsj4tv
4, The British General Strike, 1926 (1943, Reprinted in Tom Brown’s syndicalism, 1990)
5, See ‘British Labor’s Divided Ranks In the General Strike’ By Haldan Christensen (1965) at https://cache.kzoo.edu/bitstream/handle/10920/8038/3dimension1965.pdf

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Kate Sharpley
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Nov 3 2018 19:28

additional info on when the memoirs were borrowed:

"Tom and Lily moved to Gateshead c.1967/8. [T.B. visited London] soon after 15 May 1972. He made no mention then of the American women; he would almost certainly have mentioned the memoirs in a general sort of way. He was dead by the early summer of 1974, something I discovered then when a letter or publication Stuart sent him was returned marked "deceased." I wrote at once to Lily to ask if he had left the memoirs he often talked of writing and she wrote back about the Americans. All that must narrow things down a bit. The ladies' interest may have been caught initially by Tom's early membership of the SLP [Socialist Labour Party] (today just about dead, I think. but which in its heyday produced a daily paper, the Daily People, in the USA; of course the same party also produced, besides James Connolly -- who would have had a substantial Irish following in the USA -- a large percentage of the founders of the CPGB)."

syndicalist
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Nov 4 2018 00:20

Interesting, about his one time SLP membership

In the mid to late 1970s in the US, a number of former SLPers
moved on to libertarian socialism, with a semi-sympathy for
syndicalism. (They mainly seemed to have a councilist interest,
as it was a more popular trend within elements of anarchism and def
among socialists coming out of more traditional Marxian trends)