Sunday, April 05, 2020

Edward Carpenter at Millthorpe

This photo of the socialist writer, speaker and activist Edward Carpenter was taken at his home in Millthorpe in Derbyshire where he lived between 1883 and 1922.  Millthorpe being only three miles south west of where I live in Dronfield. It is currently covered by our Dronfield and District Branch of the Labour Party. So we can be proud to have Edward Carpenter as part of our socialist heritage.. 

A pamphlet entitled "Sheffield and Socialism" has recently been published by Principle 5 : Yorkshire Co-operative Resources Centre, Aizlewoods Mill, Nursery Street, Sheffield S3 8GG which provides  an extact from Edward Carpenter's important work "My Days and Dreams" which was first published in 1916 when he was at Millthorpe. The pamphlet can be obtained at a cost £2 from Principle 5. Tel: 0114 282 3132.

For people in the Sheffield and North Derbyshire area the pamphlet is a valuable feed into the work of Edward Carpenter. For it was very much his move to our area which arose from his developing commitment to socialist values. Initially he had become a curate in the Church of England, but he left the Church when he was 30 and moved to Leeds to engage in University Extension work, seeking to draw people from deprived areas into higher educational avenues. But when he discovered that too few people were being drawn into studies from such backgrounds, he moved into more grassroots forms of activity in our area. First, he had a year in Chesterfield, but soon moved to Sheffield where he built solid links with working class people who were pressing for social improvements.

With his inheritence on the death of his father, he purchased property and market gardening facilities at Millthorpe in 1883. It was his home base for the best part of the next four decades. And as you will see from the above photo he also developed a commitment to the making of sandals.

Although he involved himself in international travels and drew from the values and ideas of intellectuals such as Walt Whitman, he mixed considerably and regularly with working class activists. He was an advocate of rights of women and of homosexuals in an era when such views were very unpopular. On top of which Yeats, EM Foster, GB Shaw and HG Wells all visited him at Millthorpe. And he addressed 3,000 railway workers at Sheffield Corn Exchange along with Ramsay MacDonald in 1907. 

If the publication "Sheffield and Socialism" appeals to those who read it, then the book "Edward Carpenter : A Life of Liberty and Love" by Sheila Rowbotham (Verso - first published in 2008) is likely to be absorbing. The index gives no less than 97 page references to Millthorpe and 71 to Sheffield.

Carpenter also had at least 36 main works published. The best known being "Towards Democracy". My copy is over 400 pages long and much of it is a poetic style in its presentation. But whether its   approach is likely to appeal to readers will be indicated by the taster of his work as shown in "Sheffield and Socialism". Why not try it out ?

In Dronfield - on the right hand of the three people shown at the front of this photo is Edward Carpenter in the area of Sheffield Road. (Hat tip "Dronfield Through Time").
   No photo description available.

There is also this -  click here

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