E. P. Thompson

Edward Palmer Thompson (3 February 1924 – 28 August 1993) was an English historian, writer, socialist and peace campaigner. He is probably best known today for his historical work on the radical movements in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, in particular The Making of the English Working Class (1963).[1]

E. P. Thompson
Thompson at a 1980 protest rally
Edward Palmer Thompson

(1924-02-03)3 February 1924
Oxford, England
Died (aged 69)
Worcester, United Kingdom
Alma materCorpus Christi College, Cambridge
  • Historian
  • writer
  • socialist
  • campaign
(m. 1948)

Thompson published biographies of William Morris (1955) and (posthumously) William Blake (1993) and was a prolific journalist and essayist. He published the novel The Sykaos Papers and a collection of poetry.

His work is considered by some to have been among the most important contributions to labour history and social history in the latter twentieth-century, with a global impact, including on scholarship in Asia and Africa.[2] In a 2011 poll by History Today magazine, he was named the second most important historian of the previous 60 years, behind only Fernand Braudel.[3]

Thompson was one of the principal intellectuals of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Although he left the party in 1956 over the Soviet invasion of Hungary, he nevertheless remained a "historian in the Marxist tradition", calling for a rebellion against Stalinism as a prerequisite for the restoration of communists' "confidence in our own revolutionary perspectives".[4]

Thompson played a key role in the first New Left in Britain in the late 1950s. He was a vociferous left-wing socialist critic of the Labour governments of 1964–70 and 1974–79, and an early and constant supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, becoming during the 1980s the leading intellectual light of the movement against nuclear weapons in Europe.[5]