That House on Clerkenwell Green
A wonderful drawing from 1933 of what is now the Marx Memorial Library on Clerkenwell Green. It was built in the eighteenth century as a Welsh charity school, in the 1870s housed the Patriotic Club, one of London's leading radical clubs, and later was home to a socialist publishing house. Clerkenwell Green is one of my favourite London haunts - it has not just Marx House, but a wonderful sessions house, The Crown tavern (once a music hall), and overlooking it all the bleached tower of St James, Clerkenwell.
This drawing is on the cover of a pamphlet I've just bought - Tommy Jackson's lively account of the radical associations of Clerkenwell Green. As he says: 'To find a spot in London, or even in the British Islands, richer in historical associations than Clerkenwell Green and its vicinity would be hard indeed.'
A few decades later, another leftist, Andrew Rothstein, pursued the same territory in A House on Clerkenwell Green.
Tommy Jackson knew the area well - he was born in Clerkenwell, and imbibed the traditions of artisan radicalism which then flourished here. He makes that lineage clear in this pamphlet (see below right), and in his wonderfully engaging 1953 autobiography Solo Trumpet. My copy of that title includes a cutting from the 'Daily Worker' (below left) two years later reporting Jackson's death - one of the last of the left's great auto-didacts.
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