John Fletcher Clews Harrison (28 February 1921 – 8 January 2018), usually cited as J. F. C. Harrison, was a British academic who was Professor of History at the University of Sussex and author of books on history, particularly relating to Victorian Britain.
Harrison was born in Leicester in 1921. He was educated at City Boys' School and at Selwyn College, Cambridge. During World War II he served in the British Army as a captain in the 17th (Uganda) Battalion of the King's African Rifles. After the war he became a lecturer, then Deputy Director of the Department of Adult Education and Extra-Mural Studies at the University of Leeds. From 1961 to 1970 he was Professor of History at University of Wisconsin. He then was appointed Professor of Social History at the University of Sussex, where he remained until his retirement. He has held visiting appointments at Harvard University and the Australian National University.
He died on 8 January 2018 at the age of 96.An extended obituary by Malcolm Chase was published in the Labour History Review in 2019
'John Harrison writes always for an informed general public and not for examiners or fellow specialists', E.P.Thompson once commented, adding that 'he writes always with clarity, in an unhurried, authoritative, economical style'.Thompson and Harrison had been colleagues in the University of Leeds Adult Education Department and the years they spent teaching adult students in 'extramural' classes up and down Yorkshire shaped their determination to make academic history as accessible as possible. This was also reflected in Harrison's formative role in the UK Society for the Study of Labour History, of which he was the first secretary. At the heart of Harrison's achievement as a historian are three books.
John Harrison's autobiography (Scholarship Boy: A Personal History of the Mid-Twentieth Century, 1995) is informative not only about the author's academic career but also life in pre-war Leicester and military service with the King's African Rifles.
For his 75th birthday his lifetime's work was celebrated by his colleagues with a festschrift:
|author=has generic name (help)
This original collection of critical essays on issues of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century rural life, popular politics and beliefs brought together fifteen well-known historians. All were associated with Harrison, and all shared his interest in the importance of the personal in history, as opposed to the history of impersonal institutions. Among the essays on popular belief were studies of millenarianism, the secularist tradition and a case study of American Muggletonianism – the last by E. P. Thompson. Other essays addressed Owenism, Chartism, the Chartist Land Plan, gender and autobiography, vegetarianism and popular journalism. There were critical evaluations of the influence of America on British radicalism and socialism, on the motives that drove workers' children to become teachers, and on the construction of images of English rural life.
Chartism was a large working-class movement for political reform in Britain that erupted from 1838 to 1857 and was strongest in 1839, 1842 and 1848. It was fiercely opposed by government authorities who finally suppressed the movement. It took its name from the People's Charter of 1838 and was a national protest movement, with particular strongholds of support in Northern England, the East Midlands, the Staffordshire Potteries, the Black Country, and the South Wales Valleys. Support for the movement was at its highest when petitions signed by millions of working people were presented to the House of Commons. The strategy employed was to use the scale of support which these petitions and the accompanying mass meetings demonstrated to put pressure on politicians to concede manhood suffrage. Chartism thus relied on constitutional methods to secure its aims, though some became involved in insurrectionary activities, notably in South Wales and in Yorkshire.
Samuel Smiles was a Scottish author and government reformer. Although he campaigned on a Chartist platform, he promoted the idea that more progress would come from new attitudes than from new laws. His primary work, Self-Help (1859), promoted thrift and claimed that poverty was caused largely by irresponsible habits, while also attacking materialism and laissez-faire government. It has been called "the bible of mid-Victorian liberalism" and had lasting effects on British political thought.
The Newport Rising was the last large-scale armed protest in Great Britain, seeking democracy and the right to vote with a secret ballot. On Monday 4 November 1839, approximately 4,000 Chartist sympathisers, under the leadership of John Frost, marched on the town of Newport, Monmouthshire. En route, some Newport chartists were arrested by police and held prisoner at the Westgate Hotel in central Newport. Marchers from industrial towns outside of Newport, including many coal-miners, some with home-made arms, were intent on liberating their fellow Chartists. On their demands that the protesters were freed, soldiers of the 45th Regiment of Foot, deployed in the protection of the police, were ordered to open fire at the crowd, turning the protest effectively into a pitched hand-to-hand battle. About 22 demonstrators were confirmed killed, whilst reports of perhaps a further 50 injured. 4 soldiers were reported as injured. Subsequently, the leaders of the march were convicted of treason and were sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The sentence was later commuted to transportation.
Owenism is the utopian socialist philosophy of 19th-century social reformer Robert Owen and his followers and successors, who are known as Owenites. Owenism aimed for radical reform of society and is considered a forerunner of the cooperative movement. The Owenite movement undertook several experiments in the establishment of utopian communities organized according to communitarian and cooperative principles. One of the best known of these efforts, which were largely unsuccessful, was the project at New Harmony, Indiana, which started in 1825 and was abandoned by 1829. Owenism is also closely associated with the development of the British trade union movement, and with the spread of the Mechanics' Institute movement.
Dorothy Katharine Gane Thompson was a social historian, a leading expert on the Chartist movement. She and her famous husband E. P. Thompson became well-known in left-wing intellectual circles.
The Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser was a chartist newspaper published in Britain between 1837 and 1852, and best known for advancing the reform issues articulated by proprietor Feargus O'Connor.
Joshua Hobson (1810–1876) was a British Chartist and Tory Radical who was the first publisher of the Book of Murder, a pamphlet attacking the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. In 1838-1844 he was the publisher of the Chartist newspaper Northern Star.
George Mudie was a Scottish social reformer, Owenite, co-operator, journalist and publisher. He founded one of the first co-operative communities in the United Kingdom and edited several publications in which he attacked the established theories of political economy.
John Francis Bray was a radical, chartist, writer on socialist economics, and activist in both Britain and his native America in the 19th century. He was hailed in later life as the "Benjamin Franklin" of American labor.
The Grand National Consolidated Trades Union of 1834 was an early attempt to form a national union confederation in the United Kingdom.
Stephen Frederick Roberts is an historian of nineteenth-century Britain who has written extensively about Chartism and Birmingham in the Victorian era. He was educated at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School in Sutton Coldfield and the University of Birmingham, from where he holds B.A. and M.Litt. degrees. At the University of Birmingham he was taught by the leading historian of Chartism, Dorothy Thompson, who has been a major influence on his work. This is reflected in the co-editing of a festschrift for Thompson entitled 'The Duty of Discontent' (1995), a collaboration with her on a collection of contemporary illustrations entitled 'Images of Chartism' (1998) and the editing of a posthumous collection of her writings entitled 'The Dignity of Chartism' (2015).
John Ward, known as Zion Ward, was an Irish preacher, mystic and self-styled prophet, active in England from around 1828 to 1835. He was one of those claiming to be the successor of prophetess Joanna Southcott after her death. His imprisonment for blasphemy prompted the intervention of Member of Parliament Joseph Hume.
Abram Combe was a British utopian socialist, an associate of Robert Owen and a major figure in the early co-operative movement, leading one of the earliest Owenite communities, at Orbiston, Scotland.
The Rotunda radicals, known at the time as Rotundists or Rotundanists, were a diverse group of social, political and religious radical reformers who gathered around the Blackfriars Rotunda, London, between 1830 and 1832, while it was under the management of Richard Carlile. During this period almost every well-known radical in London spoke there at meetings which were often rowdy. The Home Office regarded the Rotunda as a centre of violence, sedition and blasphemy, and regularly spied on its meetings.
Carolyn Kay Steedman, FBA is a British historian, specialising in the social and cultural history of modern Britain and exploring labour, gender, class, language and childhood. Since 2013, she has been Emeritus Professor of History at University of Warwick, where she had previously been a Professor of History since 1999. Steedman graduated from the University of Sussex with an undergraduate degree in English and American Studies in 1968, and then completed a master's degree at Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1974. She was a teacher from then until 1982, when she joined the Institute of Education in the University of London as a researcher; for the 1983–84 year, she was a Fellow there, before lecturing at the University of Warwick, where she was appointed Senior Lecturer in 1988, Reader in 1991 and Professor of Social History in 1995. For the year 1998–99, she was Director of Warwick's Centre for Study of Social History. Steedman returned to Newnham College to complete her doctorate, which was awarded in 1989.
John Watts (1818–1887) was an English educational and social reformer. Originally an Owenite, whose economic writings affected the views of Friedrich Engels, he moved to a position more in favour of capital. In later life he had a multiplicity of interests and undertook many social projects.
Robert Buchanan (1813–1866) was a Scottish socialist writer and lecturer, and journalist.
Edward Truelove (1809–1899) was an English radical publisher and freethinker.
Taxes on knowledge was a slogan defining an extended British campaign against duties and taxes on newspapers, their advertising content, and the paper they were printed on. The paper tax was early identified as an issue: "A tax upon Paper, is a tax upon Knowledge" is a saying attributed to Alexander Adam (1741–1809), a Scottish headmaster.
Malcolm Sherwin Chase was a social historian noted especially for his work on Chartism.