Talk:E. P. Thompson

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Biography of William Morris[edit]

Whilst the first edition in 1955 may well have not been widely read, the reissue in 1976, (including the Pantheon/Merlin paperback) certainly was. I remember my own interest being kindled by a Radio 3 presentation about that time.Linuxlad 09:22, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I was worried by that sentence too. Was it not read at the time because of his politics or for other reasons? Kudos to all those who have added material to this over the last few weeks. One point though is that now it seems like we're suggesting Thompson wasn't a Marxist, especially in the "humanist socialism vs Marxism of the Communist Parties" bit. I think the 'M' word has to go back in. Mattley 09:59, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I'm not trying to undermine the fact that the Morris biography is an important piece of work- just thought I fill in some of the historical gaps. At the time Thompson wrote it, there was a taboo about being an Academic in Britain and being a Marxist. For this reason, this work, and many others, were not given the attention they arguably deserved. Vanky 11:41, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

added in parallel to Vanky's reply above!

Well that's driven me back to read the 1976 postscript - it's a good read - where the following apologia looks relevant

' ...' it is true that in 1955 I allowed some hectoring political moralisms, as well as a few Stalinist pieties, to intrude upon the text. I had then a somewhat reverent notion of Marxism as a received orthodoxy... The book was published at the height of the Cold War. Intellectual McCarthyism was not confined to the US...
The climate can be illustrated by the welcome afforded my book in the non-Socialist press. This welcome was mainly silence, broken by the review in TLS headed 'Morris & Marxism

So, yes the _1955_ edition was coolly received, in EPT's opinion largely because of his unfashionable Marxist viewpoint. But in '76, (when The Making of the English Working Class was in its 5th Penguin reprint), things had moved on... Linuxlad 11:44, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Thompson's History[edit]

Was Thompson ever 'in academia'? As far as I know he moved to Halifax to teach adult education classes after he graduated from Cambridge. Also, I think his studies at Cambridge were actually interrupted by the war, returning to them after he completed his service.. Anyone else have any thoughts on this? Vanky 12:59, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

He was at the University of Warwick in the 1960s. I think he wrote a book about his disillusionment with the place. I know people who studied under him in the 70s, though I couldn't tell you where off the top of my head. Yes, Thompson was most definitely 'in academia'. Mattley 13:48, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

You're right- I've been poking around, and it seems Thompson taught adult education ("Extra-mural") classes at Leeds University, before, as you say, he took up a post at Warwick. They have an E.P. Thompson award for gifted history scholars, I think... Vanky 14:21, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

How deliciously vague. I came here hoping to find out when Thompson actually taught at Warwick, but the article has him leaving without ever arriving, and with no exact attached to his departure. pmr 11:16, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

Dorothy Thompson[edit]

Might also be worth noting EPT's marriage to Dorothy Towers (in 1948), who is also a leading academic new-left historian (Prof of History at Univ of Birmingham, wrote inter alia on women in the Chartist Movement, and a bio of Queen Vic., subtitled 'Gender and Power')Linuxlad 17:45, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

British Communists[edit]

Why single EPT out for inclusion here, when he left in 1956. What about the others who wre members for a time only - like, famously Denis Healey!

Have to start categorising somewhere Dafyddyoung 11:15, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Luggage Labels[edit]

We seem to be getting a lot of detail on EPT's impecable left-wing credentials, and loosing all trace on what he actually did. eg. his attitude to Morris, including his rereading of the poetry, his obvious disappointment at the lukewarm reception to the first edition, and his readiness to rework for the revision; his refreshing perspective in making of the English Working class; his characteristic revision of his views during the 70s, when some (like Militant) of the 'left' were lapsing into 'fossilised Marxism' etc Linuxlad 20:42, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Posthumus Blake?[edit]

start of the article says his book on Blake was published posthumously. Later we read: "The last book Thompson published during his lifetime was Witness Against the Beast: William Blake.." Can't we get even the facts right?

• I see that the text was altered to remove the discrepancy. Still, EPT died on Aug. 28, 1993, and the book appeared in the same year. It may well have been in print before he died. But even if not, is there any point to saying that it was published posthumously? If not, I suggest deletion. pmr 15:55, 14 September 2006 (UTC)


There's a nice long quotation from the intro of MotEWC - but I wonder if it would be better placed there rather than in the main article...Linuxlad

Thanks for drawing this to my attention. I feel that the full quotation is worth including somewhere on Wikipedia, but have an open mind about whether or not to include it in the main article about EPT and/or the separate (very good) linked entry on The MotEWC. Personally, I feel that the full quotation illustrates Thompson's general approach to historiography and the link with his brand of humanistic Marxism against what he later termed the 'poverty of theory' of continental Marxism. Given this, it has a place in the biographical article. However, it would also make good sense to transfer it to the MotEWC page.

I noticed in passing last night that it was misquoted on a number of other web sites or taken out of context. Putting the full accurate online quotation on wikipedia (and wikiquotes)will be a help to those who are starting online research on this topic. Thanks once again for your commentary. Rmackenzie 12:00, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

The First New Left[edit]

In this section the word "managerialist" is jargon and should be elaborated. pmr 11:00, 16 September 2006 (UTC)


Er, this is a bit arcane - needs a link, reference or a separate definition.

Bob aka Linuxlad 22:27, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

The Reasoner or New Reasoner??[edit]

What is the true name of this publication? because there's an article called New Reasoner in wikipedia which is about the same subject.. 22:58, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

As far as I can remember, it has been known by both titles... Vanky 08:13, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

The Reasoner was the name given to the original editions published whilst Thompson & co were still members of the CPGB, once the publication was condemned and they left the party the publication became the New Reasoner. Afaik.

Multiple POV issues in various parts[edit]

Much of the text on the career of Thompson suggests lengthy close paraphrase of secondary sources, often because they seem to refer to absent context; thus, plagiarism. Such passages appear also to express POV of those secondary sources, without acknowledgement. In addition, citation of Thomson career events largely in the voices of those secondary source authors also seems to indicate reliance on single sources for much of the information cited. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:48, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

The Sykaos Papers[edit]

I had PRODded The Sykaos Papers back in January. DGG deprodded to instead propose merge to this article. Given (a) 7 months have gone by without any discussion of the matter, (b) the work is mentioned here already, and (c) the other article doesn't cite any secondary refs at all, I'm going to go ahead and redirect it and remove the merge tags. If anyone objects (i.e. wants to expand on it here or improve it there), feel free to do so. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 21:46, 20 September 2015 (UTC)

External link?[edit]

Would an interview with transcript with Edward Palmer Thompson from 1987 be useful here as an external link? Focus of conversation is nuclear weapons policy. (I have a conflict of interest; otherwise I would add it myself.) Mccallucc (talk) 15:57, 23 March 2016 (UTC)