C. Allen Clarke

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Charles Allen Clarke (1863–1935), most widely known as C. Allen Clarke, was an English working-class humorist, novelist, journalist and social investigator from Lancashire. An ILP member and friend of Robert Blatchford, Clarke succeeded Joseph Burgess as editor of the Yorkshire Factory Times.[1]


Born in Bolton, Clarke left school at thirteen, when he moved with his parents to Mirfield and worked half-time in a mill. The family soon moved back to Bolton, where he continued to work, while studying in his spare time at Hulton School. He became a pupil-teacher there, and he continued to teach for seven years, after which he took a post with the Bolton Evening News. Initially, his work was mundane, copying records and compiling directories, but the local engineers' strike of 1887 inspired him to become more political, and he joined the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) the following year, when Tom Mann founded a local branch.[2]

Clarke founded his own newspaper in 1890, the Labour Light, on which he employed James Haslam in his first journalistic role. The two also worked with J. R. Clynes in an attempt to found a trade union for cotton piecers in Lancashire. Both projects were unsuccessful, but Clarke founded a new paper in 1891, the Bolton Trotter,[2] which ran as a weekly publication until 1893, together with an annual, the Trotter Christmas Annual. Teddy Ashton's Journal was started in 1896 as a continuation of the Trotter, with Teddy Ashton's Christmas Annual as the associated annual. Clarke continued to edit the publication (as Teddy Ashton's Northern Weekly, Teddy Ashton's Weekly Fellowship and Teddy Ashton's Weekly) for fourteen years.[3]

Clarke's best-known novel, The Knobstick (1893), was originally serialised in the Yorkshire Factory Times. It took the 1887 Bolton Engineers' Strike as its backdrop, though Clarke added both a love story and a sensational crime plot.[4]

Clarke moved towards spiritualism in the 1890s, affected by some family tragedies and apparently encountering the psychic powers of his second wife.[5]

Clarke stood as the Labour Representation Committee candidate for Rochdale at the 1900 UK general election, supported by both the SDF and the Independent Labour Party (ILP), of which he was now also a member. He opposed the Second Boer War, and called for state pensions and the nationalisation of the railways and coal mines. He took 901 votes and third place. In the same year, he moved back to Bolton to become editor of the Northern Weekly, then back to Blackpool in 1906, where he continued to edit the Weekly and Teddy Ashton's Journal. He also wrote for the Liverpool Weekly Post and Blackpool Gazette, and produced a series of novels.[2]

Clarke trained his younger brother, Tom Clarke, as a journalist, and Tom later became editor of the Daily News and News Chronicle.[2]


In 1937 Cornelius Bagot of Blackpool donated the windmill at Little Marton to be maintained in memorial to Allen Clarke. [6]

The windmill is still there today and is currently maintained by The Friends of Little Marton Windmill[7]


  • In darkest Huddersfield and one way out of it: or, why have we no public library, 1891.
  • The knobstick: a story of love and labour, 1893.
  • The friend of Santa Claus, and other stories, 1893.
  • Tales of a deserted village, 1894.
  • The witch of Eagle's Crag, 1895.
  • Old tales for young folks, 1895.
  • "Voices", and other verses, 1895.
  • What do we live for, 1896.
  • The effects of the factory system, 1899.
  • A great catch: a comedietta in three scenes: for five females and a baby
  • Woman's chance: a comedietta in three scenes: for three females, 1901.
  • Starved into surrender, 1904.
  • Lancashire lasses and lads, 1906.
  • Tum Fowt Sketches. no. 1-32, 1922.
  • The story of Blackpool, 1923.
  • Windmill land stories, 1924.
  • Teddy Ashton's Lancashire poems, 1928.
  • Blackpool: walks and rides in the fylde and over wyre, 1930.
  • Windmill land: rambles in a rural, old-fashioned country with chat about its history and romance, 1933.


  1. ^ Deborah Mutch (2005). English Socialist Periodicals, 1880–1900: A Reference Source. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. xiv. ISBN 978-0-7546-5205-2. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Margaret 'Esipinasse, Dictionary of Labour Biography (vol.5), pp.64–70
  3. ^ 'The Bolton Trotter', The Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800–1900
  4. ^ Elizabeth Miller (2013). Slow Print: Literary Radicalism and Late Victorian Print Culture. Stanford University Press. pp. 93–4. ISBN 978-0-8047-8465-8. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  5. ^ Logie Barrow (1986). Independent Spirits: Spiritualism and English Plebeians 1850–1910. Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 118–19. ISBN 978-0-7102-0815-6. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Memorial plaque to Allen Clarke". Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  7. ^ "Friends of Little Marton Windmill". Archived from the original on 22 June 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2014.