The Freedom Press is an anarchist publishing house in Whitechapel, London, United Kingdom. Founded in 1886, it is the largest anarchist publishing house in the country and the oldest of its kind in the English speaking world. It is based at 84b Whitechapel High Street in the East End of London. Alongside its many books and pamphlets, the group also publish a monthly newspaper, Freedom, which is the only regular anarchist newspaper published nationally in the UK. Other regular publications by Freedom Press have included Freedom Bulletin, Spain and the World, Revolt! and War Commentary.
The Press was founded in 1886 by a group of friends, including Charlotte Wilson and Peter Kropotkin, who were already publishing Freedom newspaper as a social anarchist and anarchist communist publication, and has operated, with the exception of short breaks, ever since. Much of the bookshop's recent history was tied up with Vernon Richards, who was the driving force behind both it and Freedom Newspaper from the 1930s until late in the 90s.
When Richards and three other editors were arrested at the beginning of 1945 for attempting "to undermine the affections of members of His Majesty's Forces.", Benjamin Britten, E. M. Forster, Augustus John, George Orwell, Herbert Read (chairman), Osbert Sitwell and George Woodcock set up the Freedom Defence Committee to "uphold the essential liberty of individuals and organizations, and to defend those who are persecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of speech, writing and action."
Over the years the Freedom editorial group has included Jack Robinson, Pete Turner, Colin Ward, Nicolas Walter, Alan Albon, John Rety, Nino Staffa, Dave Mansell, Gillian Fleming, Mary Canipa, Philip Sansom, Arthur Moyse and many others. Clifford Harper maintained a loose association for 30 years.
The bookshop was attacked by neo-fascist group Combat 18 in March 1993, and eventually firebombed. The building still bears some visible damage from the attacks, and metal guards have been installed on the ground floor windows and doors, intended to ward against any further violence.
Today Freedom Press remains as a functioning publishing house whilst the printing itself is done by Aldgate Press. (A printing co-op set up in 1981 with money raised by Vernon Richards). The Freedom Press collective runs an autonomy club, archive, bookshop and newspaper, while sharing the premises with The London Coalition Against Poverty, the Anarchist Federation, the Solidarity Federation, the Advisory Service for Squatters and Corporate Watch. The library of the Freedom Press is held at Bishopsgate Library.
Having had a close affinity with Colin Ward and Vernon Richards it has produced much of their extensive back catalogue, in addition to titles by Clifford Harper, Nicolas Walter, Murray Bookchin, Gaston Leval, William Blake, Errico Malatesta, Harold Barclay and many others, including 118 issues of the journals Anarchy, edited by Colin Ward and 43 issues of The Raven.
List of Freedom Press's Best Selling Books
- Anarchism and Anarcho-syndicalism, Rudolf Rocker
- Anarchy, Errico Malatesta
- Anarchy in Action, Colin Ward
- Beating the Fascists: the Untold Story of AFA, Sean Birchall
- Fields, Factories and Workshops Tomorrow, Peter Kropotkin
- George Orwell at Home (and Among the Anarchists), Vernon Richards
- Wildcat Anarchist Comics, Donald Rooum
- Gay, Kathlyn (1999). Encyclopedia of Political Anarchy. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. p. 12. ISBN 0-87436-982-7.
- Goodway, David (2007). Anarchist Seeds beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. p. 182. ISBN 1-84631-025-3.
- George Orwell at Home pp 71-72 Freedom Press (1998)
- Orwell, Sonia and Angus, Ian (eds.). The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 4: In Front of Your Nose (1945-1950) (Penguin)
- "Freedom Bookshop firebombed" libcom.org
- Gee, Tim (4 February 2013). "Britain's oldest radical bookshop is burned, but the ideas survive". The Guardian.
- Rooum, Donald (Summer 2008). "Freedom, Freedom Press and Freedom Bookshop: A short history of Freedom Press". Information for Social Change (27). ISSN 1756-901X.
- Freedom Press website
- Freedom Press documents from the Kate Sharpley Library
- libcom.org British libertarian communist website linked to Freedom Press
- Freedom Press & newspaper entry at the Daily Bleed's Anarchist Encyclopedia