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Oct 19

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists


The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, an impressive but bulky novel, was once known as the "painter's bible."

It was written by the Dublin born Robert Noonan (pen-name Robert Tressell) and was based on his own work as sign writer and decorator in Hastings before World War One.

In August 1910, not having found a publisher, Noonan left Hastings for Liverpool hoping to secure work and to earn enough cash to enable his daughter Kathleen and himself to settle in Canada.

However he had chronic TB and was coughing up his own blood. Penniless, he entered the Royal Liverpool Infirmary, effectively a workhouse. There he died on February 3, 1911 and he was buried in a pauper's grave.

His daughter later found his manuscript and the novel -albeit heavily edited- was published three years later.

Since then there have been a dozen further editions, many of them thankfully with the revolutionary politics restored.

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