Philip Sansom

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Philip Sansom
Photo of Sansom published 1945
Philip Richard Sansom

(1916-09-19)19 September 1916
Died24 October 1999(1999-10-24) (aged 83)
London, England
Occupation(s)Writer and editor
MovementAnarchist movement

Philip Richard Sansom (19 September 1916 – 24 October 1999) was a British anarchist writer and activist.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Sansom was the son of a lathe operator. He came from the same area in London from which his good friend Colin Ward came, Wandsworth, and was brought up in Hackney. Sansom was trained as an artist in West Ham Technical College, during which he came into contact with the published works of Herbert Read. Sansom (1987) (see 'Publications' below) documented that, in 1936, Read was ‘already established as England’s leading writer on modern art in all its facets’ and that his books: '“The meaning of art”, “Art and industry” and “Art and society” were almost required reading for my generation of art students'. After he left art college, Sansom became a commercial artist.

Political affiliation[edit]

Westhall (1973) observed that the position of Sansom:

'is closer to syndicalism than the others intimately connected with Freedom Press; indeed he worked on a paper called The Syndicalist with Albert Meltzer for a while ….'[3]

Sansom affirmed his commitment to syndicalism with his pamphlet ‘Syndicalism: The workers’ next step’, see below, excerpts of which have been republished in Graham (2009).[4]


During the Second World War Sansom was a conscientious objector, and worked on the land, which he was presumably required to do. From 1943 he worked on War Commentary, a wartime substitute for the anarchist paper Freedom. With his co-editors Vernon Richards and John Hewetson, he was tried at the Old Bailey in 1945 and imprisoned for nine months for conspiring to publish an article allegedly inciting soldiers to disaffect from their duty or allegiance.[2] He was a charismatic orator at Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, and elsewhere in the 1950s and 1960s.[1]


  • Syndicalism: The Workers' Next Step. London: Freedom Press. 1951.
  • "Revived 45: Anarchists against the army" (PDF). The Raven Anarchist Quarterly. 29 (8): 1. 1974.
  • "Introduction" in Wildcat Anarchist Comics. London: Freedom Press. 1985. ISBN 978-0-90-038430-1.
  • "Freedom Press and the anarchist movement in the '50s and '60s". Freedom. 47 (9): 32–35. 1986. ISSN 0016-0504.
  • "Surprise, surprise! A curate's egg!". The Raven Anarchist Quarterly. 1 (3): 267–279. 1987. ISSN 0951-4066.
  • "Anarchists against hanging" in Rooum, Donald (2016, originally c.1993), "What is anarchism An Introduction", Edited by Vernon Richards, Second edition, PO Box 23912, Oakland, California: PM Press, ISBN 978-1-62963-146-2.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rooum, Donald (15 November 1999). "Philip Sansom". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b Pilgrim, John (3 November 1999). "Obituary: Philip Sansom". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2022-05-26. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  3. ^ Westhall, Jerry (1973). "What's wrong with Freedom". Anarchism. Series Two (12): 22–26.
  4. ^ Graham, Robert (2009). Anarchism A documentary history Volume Two The emergence of the new anarchism (1939-1977). Montréal: Black Rose Books. ISBN 978-1-55164-311-3.