James C Welsh was born in 1880 into a large family in the Lnarkshire mining village of Haywood.
He experienced poverty first hand and had to leave school and go down the mines at the age of 11. There he laboured at "every phase of coal" before becoming a checkweighter when he was 15.
Welsh would later reflect that, though pit life was undeniably "irksome" it was "by no means destitute of joy." And it certainly led him to take an interest both in trade union affairs -he became a full time trade union official- and in socialism, with him joining the nascent Independent Labour Party (Burke 2013).
Welsh had also harboured literary ambitions from an early age. Encouraged by J. Harrison Maxwell, a Glasgow teacher, he published SONGS OF A MINER in 1917, His first novel THE UNERWORLD: THE STORY OF ROBERT SINCLAIR, MINER appeared in 1920. The novel's central character evolves from his working class background into a "spirited fighter for the cause." His own individual coming of age mirrors the wider progress of the labour movement in Scotland. Indeed Welsh introduces real figures -Robert Smillie and Keir Hardie- into the narrative.
THE UNERWORLD novel was, Laus (1982) opines, Welsh's "most sustained socialist creation." Indeed it was an instant success. It sold 50,000 copies in a few months and it was in print for the rest of the decade.
Welsh was elected to Parliament as Labour MP for Coatbridge in 1922. His second novel, THE MORLOCKS, appeared in 1924. However, ensconced at Westminster, his socialist convictions seemed to be on the wane. The novel deals with post war conflict in the mines but worries about the threat of revolution.
His third and last novel, NORMAN DALE MP (1928) completed his shift to the right.