Of all the Chartist leaders, James Bronterre O'Brien is the one that most captures my imagination - it's the splendid name, of course, and also the corruscating polemic, his interest in the French Revolution, his role in propaganda and political journalism.
And there's the remarkable following he attracted, particularly among radical artisans in central London, which kept his name and ideas alive for a generation after his death in 1864. The O'Brienites, indeed, contributed abundantly to the socialist revival in London in the late 1880s.
I was delighted to pick up this Bronterre O'Brien pamphlet from 1851, in the dog days of Chartism - quite pricey, but a choice item. The final page carries a note about O'Brien's health - for years he was chronically ill, and but for his poor health he may well have achieved a still greater political legacy. He is buried in Abney Park cemetery in Stoke Newington, and I've posted photos of his grave elsewhere on this site.
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