Charles Madge

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Charles Henry Madge (10 October 1912 – 17 January 1996),[1] was an English poet, journalist and sociologist, now most remembered as a founder of Mass-Observation.[2][3]


Charles Henry Madge was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, son of Lieut-Col. Charles Madge (1874-1916) and Barbara Hylton-Foster (1882-1967). He was educated at Winchester College and studied at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He was a literary figure from his early twenties, becoming a friend of David Gascoyne; like Gascoyne he was generally classed as a surrealist poet. Madge's essay "Surrealism for the English" (New Verse magazine, December 1933) argued that potential English surrealist poets would need both a knowledge of "the philosophical position of the French surrealists" and "a knowledge of their own language and literature".[4] Madge contributed the essay "Pens Dipped In Poison" (1934) to Left Review, a strong critique of the British intellectuals who had supported the First World War.[5] He worked for a spell as a reporter for the Daily Mirror. By the end of the 1930s, he was more involved in Mass-Observation surveys and reports, socialist realism (in theory) and Communism. By the 1940s, however, Madge was moving away from Communism.[2]

From 1950 to 1970, Madge was Professor of Sociology at the University of Birmingham.[2]

Faber and Faber published his poetry as The Disappearing Castle (1937) and The Father Found (1940).


In 1938, Charles Madge married the poet Kathleen Raine (previously married to Hugh Sykes Davies). He had two children by Kathleen Raine: Anna Madge (b. 1934) and James Wolf Madge (1936-2006) who married Jennifer Alliston, daughter of architects Jane Drew and James Thomas Alliston. In 1942 he married Agnes Marie Pearn (known as Inez, previously married to Stephen Spender). In 1984, he married Evelyn Brown.


  • Grids, perspectival space, and rules of deduction: Of Love, Time, and Places; Selected Poems (1994) Anvil.
  • Charles Madge & Humphrey Jennings, eds. May the Twelfth, Mass-Observation Day-Surveys 1937, by over two hundred observers, London, Faber & Faber, 1937. ISBN 0-571-14872-7


  1. ^ New General Catalog of Old Books and Authors
  2. ^ a b c Philip Bounds, Orwell and Marxism: the political and cultural thinking of George Orwell. London: I.B. Tauris, 2009. ISBN 9781845118075 (p. 204)
  3. ^ "...the development of the Mass-Observation movement began with an informal group of friends and colleagues who met frequently in Blackheath at the London home of Charles Madge, Surrealist poet, journalist and soon-to-be sociologist." Natalya Lusty; Helen Groth (eds.) Dreams and modernity: a cultural history. London: Routledge, 2013. ISBN 9780415606943 (p. 151).
  4. ^ Rob Jackaman, The Course of English Surrealist Poetry since the 1930s. Lewiston: E. Mellen Press, 1989. ISBN 0889469326 (p. 92).
  5. ^ Brian Pearce,"Some Lessons From History: The Left Review, 1934–1938" The Newsletter, November 1959.

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