This is the sort of political ephemera that I love - a programme for the Daily Worker's annual dinner, cabaret and dance at a posh Bloomsbury hotel. This is from the spring of 1943, a few months after the wartime ban on the British Communists' daily paper was lifted.
On the back of the programme is a space for autographs, and whoever's had this card was busy that evening - getting , by my count, twenty-three monikers. But who were they? Well I'm going to try to find out, and will update this post as more information comes to light -
1: Grader - and then by the same hand in Burmese 'Great Dah': in other words 'Grader' rendered into Burmese script. 'Dah' means knife in Burmese, though that doesn't solve the mystery of who Grader was - it's not a Burmese name.
2 R. Bishop: Reg Bishop was a prominent communist who had spent time in the Soviet bloc
3 Barbara Niven: was an artist who worked for many years for the Daily Worker, become the head of its 'Fighting Fund'
4 M. Myat Tun (and in Burmese 'Maung Myat Tun'): he had been in touch with George Orwell in 1942. This appears to have been a name adopted by U Myint Thein (1900-1994) who studied at Cambridge and was called to the Bar in 1925. He was appointed Burma's first ambassador to China in 1948 and was Burma's Chief Justice from 1957 to 1962.
5 ?? T. Srenier
6 Willie Hall
7 Harry Davis: this may be the Bethnal Green boxer of this name
8 D.F, Springhall: Dave Springhall was editor of the Daily Worker in 1938-9 and then the party's national organsier. Later in 1943, he was sentenced to seven years in jail for espionage - for gathering classified information about defence equipment - and was expelled from the CP. As well as his signature, he wrote: 'with keen affection'.
9 ? Rona Ofrenbrau
10 Arthur Danahar: was a well-known boxer
11 ? Henri Vyarik
12 Cayton: was the nom de plume of Alf Rubin and came from Cayton Street, where the Daily Worker was based in the mid-1930s. He was the paper's racing tipster for many decades.
13 Harry Ross
14 G.W. Sinfield: George Sinfield was active in the 1930s in the workers' sports movement and the National Union of Boxers. He became the Daily Worker's sports writer and later its industrial correspondent.
15 R. Palme Dutt: Rajani Palme Dutt was one of the leading figures in the Communist Party, and was general secretary over 1939-41 when Harry Pollitt stood down because of his reservations over the 'imperialist war' line.
16 J.B.S Haldane: a very prominent scientist and populariser of science, and an Eton-educated Marxist
17 D.N. Pritt: a barrister and 'fellow traveller', he was elected as a Labour MP in 1935 but was expelled from the Labour Party in 1940 for defending the Soviet invasion of Finland
18 Frank Pitcairn: was the nom de plume of Claud Cockburn a journalist who wrote regularly for the Daily Worker, most famously from Spain during the civil war
19 ?? Slattery
20 Bland: perhaps a cartoonist
21 Ben Francis: worked for thirty years on the editorial staff of the Daily Worker
22 Jack Owen: was a member of the editorial board of the Daily Worker
23 Bill Duty, who also seems to refer to himself as Sweet William
The Daily Worker has been a part of many dinner parties, but this is the first time it was invited to a dinner dance. As its hostess I want to make sure that you have an amazing time. The Daily Worker wants to help its readers find new ways to share their ideas, be informed about current events and break down barriers by providing information that can challenge traditional political views. It also seeks to encourage activity within local communities with its traveling press bureau team manned by some of the best editors and reporters in Washington DC.
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