EP and Dorothy Thompson

• E.P. Thompson
• Dorothy Thompson
• Supplementary material and links
• E.J. Thompson 1886 - 1946
• Frank Thompson 1920 - 1944

Edward and Dorothy Thompson were historians and activists. They met in 1945, and worked together on the international youth brigade which helped to build the railway in Tito's Yugoslavia. Soon afterwards they married and settled in Halifax, West Yorkshire, where they both taught in extramural adult education. They made a dynamic and idealistic team, determined to use their considerable energy to create a better world. A succession of houses in Yorkshire and the English midlands were constantly filled with interesting people and lively discussion. Alongside their work as historians, writers and teachers, Edward and Dorothy worked tirelessly for the peace movement, being early supporters of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and founder members of the later European Nuclear Disarmament, which encouraged dialogue across the iron curtain. Both of them published seminal works in their fields, and each was the other's first editor and critic.

EP Thompson (1924 – 1993)

E.P. Thompson was a British historian and peace campaigner. He is best known today for his ground-breaking work of social history, The Making of the English Working Class, which was first published in 1963 and has never been out of print. As well as other historical works, he also wrote a novel, a collection of poetry and books about his father, E.J. Thompson (Alien Homage) and his brother, Frank (Beyond the Frontier). He renounced his membership of the Communist Party in 1957, but his Marxist values inform much of his work. He was active in the peace movement, an early supporter of CND and a founder member of END (European Nuclear Disarmament), and gave over many years of his writing life to raising awareness about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and, more generally, the danger of increasing militarisation in Europe and the USA.


The Making of the English Working Class (Reissue) - Penguin Modern Classics, 2013 (1963)

Customs in Common, The Merlin Press, 2009

Whigs and Hunters, Breviary Stuff Publications, 2013

Poverty of Theory: An Orrery of Errors, The Merlin Press, 1996 (1978)

Witness against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law, Cambridge University Press, 1994

The Romantics: England in a Revolutionary Age, The Merlin Press, 1997

William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary (2nd Revised edition) The Merlin Press, 2011 (1955)

Persons and Polemics: Historical Essays, The Merlin Press, 1993

Beyond the Frontier: Politics of a Failed Mission, Bulgaria, 1944 (Ed Dorothy Thompson) - The Merlin Press, 1997

Collected Poems, Bloodaxe Books, 1999

Infant and Emperor: Poems for Christmas, The Merlin Press, 1983

Zero Option, The Merlin Press, 1982

The Heavy Dancers, The Merlin Press, 1985

Star Wars: Self Destruct Incorporated (Ed, with Ben Thompson), Penguin, 1985

Beyond the Cold War, (Pamphlet), The Merlin Press, 1982. Wilson Centre Digital edition available here

Sykaos Papers, Bloomsbury, 1988

Prospectus for a Habitable Planet, (Ed, with Dan Smith), Penguin, 1987

Alien Homage: Edward Thompson and Rabindranath Tagore, OUP India, 1993

Double Exposure, Merlin Press, 1985

Protest and Survive, (Ed, with Dan Smith) Penguin, 1980. Wilson Centre Digital edition available here

Writing by Candlelight, Merlin Press, 1980

US Editions

E. P. Thompson and the Making of the New Left: Essays and Polemics, (ed Cal Winslow) - Monthly Review Press, 2014

The Essential E. P. Thompson (Ed Dorothy Thompson) - The New Press, 2001

Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law, The New Press, 1995

The Poverty of Theory & Other Essays - Monthly Review Press, 1996 (1978)

Making History: Writings on History & Culture -The New Press, 1995

William Morris: Roamntic to Revolutionary - (Foreword Pete Linebaugh) - PM Press (Spectre) 2011

Co-authored publications

Warwick University Ltd: Industry, Management and the Universities Spokesman Books, 2013

Albion’s Fatal Tree - Verso, new edition 2011

The Unknown Mayhew: Selections from the "Morning Chronicle" 1849-50 (with Eileen Yeo) - Merlin Press (new edition), 2009

Protest and Survival: The Historical Experience, Essays for E. P. Thompson - The Merlin Press, 1993 Feischrift

The New Hungarian Peace Movement, Ferenc Koszegi & E.P. Thompson, END Special Report, published jointly by Merlin Press and END, [1982] Wilson Centre Digital edition available here

The Nuclear North Atlantic, Olafur Grimsson & Angus McCormack, introduction by E.P. Thompson, END Special Report, published jointly by Merlin Press and END, 1982 Wilson Centre Digital edition available here

The New Reasoner - online archive published by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust, available here.

Secondary publications

E.P. Thompson: A twentieth century romantic, Christos Efstathiou, Merlin Press, 2015

The Making of E.P. Thompson, Bryan Palmer, New Hogtown Press, 1981

E. P. Thompson: Objections and Oppositions, Bryan Palmer, Verso, 1994

The Crisis of Theory: E. P. Thompson, the New Left and Postwar British Politics, Scott Hamilton, Manchester University Press, 2012

Doing History from the Bottom Up: On E.P. Thompson, Howard Zinn, and Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below, Staunton Lynd, Haymarket Books, 2015

E. P. Thompson and English Radicalism, Roger Fieldhouse (Editor), Richard Taylor (Editor) Manchester University Press, 2014

"Remembering Dorothy and Edward", A talk by Sheila Rowbotham, Dorothy and E.P.Thompson Inaugural Lecture 2012. Pastpixels, (PO Box 798, Worcester WR 4 4BW)

E.P.Thompson: Critical Perspectives, Harvey J. Kaye and Keith McLelland (eds.) Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990

"Casualties of History", a Jacobin podcast series on The Making of the English Working Class, presented by Gabriel Winant and Alex Press.

Work, class and empire: An African historian's retrospective on E. P. Thompson,” Frederick Cooper, Social History 20, no. 2 (1995).

Reappraising British socialist humanism,” Madeleine Davis, Journal of Political Ideologies 18, no. 1 (2013).

Edward Thompson's Ethics and Activism 1956–1963: Reflections on the Political Formation of The Making of the English Working Class,” Madeleine Davis Contemporary British History 28, no. 4 (2014).

"The Global E.P. Thompson", special issue of International Review of Social History, 61, no. 1 (2016)

Dorothy Thompson (1923 - 2011)

Dorothy Thompson was a historian, teacher and activist. She is probably best known for her seminal work The Chartists, and for her reassessment of Queen Victoria, though she herself considered her finest achievement to be the guidance of a succession of talented history graduates. Some of these collaborated in publishing a collection of essays in her honour, The Duty of Discontent, in 1995. She was active in the peace movement and the women’s movement, and edited Our Dead Bodies, Women against the Bomb. In her later years she was a reliable and generous source of information for friends and family as well as for researchers and colleagues.


Over Our Dead Bodies: Women Against the Bomb (Editor) - Virago, 1983

Queen Victoria: A Woman on the Throne: Gender and Power - Virago, 1987

The Chartists: Popular Politics in the Industrial Revolution (reissue) - Breviary Stuff Publications, 2013

Outsiders: Class, Gender and Nation - Verso, 1993

The Early Chartists - Macmillan, 1971

The British People 1760-1902 - Heinemann, 1969

Chartism: Working Class Politics in the Industrial Revolution (22 vols) - Garland, 1986 (This is a collection of contemporary documents)

Images of Chartism (w S. Roberts) - The Merlin Press, 1998

The Duty of Discontent: Essays for Dorothy Thompson - Leicester University Press, 1995

The Dignity of Chartism: Collected Essays, edited by Stephen Roberts - Verso, 2015 Press release.


Lives on the Left: A Group Portrait, edited by Francis Mulhern - Verso 2011

Unpublished Material

"Halifax as a Chartist Centre" Unpublished essay by Edward and Dorothy Thompson

"Reflections on the British Communist Party" (Unpublished introduction to a book by Dorothy Thompson).

Supplementary material and links


Interview with Edward and Dorothy Thompson by Andrew Whitehead, December 1991

Desert Island Discs with Edward Thompson November 1991

E. P. Thompson speaks in a plenary session at History Workshop


Rear Window - an edited version of the original programme. (Thanks to Tariq Ali TV.)

Perspectives on E. P. Thompson (Session II of the “Dissenting Traditions” conference at Trent University, 23-24 October 2015.)

Great Confrontations at the Oxford Union: Casper Weinberger vs E.P. Thompson

E.P. Thompson at the 1977 SSRC Seminar on Models of Social Change 1

E.P Thompson and C.L.R. James

Glastonbury, 1980s

Lecture on Blake's 'London'

Late Show 1991

Opinion 1982

Comment Poems

Essays, articles etc.

Remembering EP Thompson, Cal Winslow in Counterpunch, 2013

Historical texts as literature? Ann Curthoys

Verso Blog, with Malcolm Chase's talk on the publication of The Dignity of Chartism

Against the Grain - audio archives. Cal Winslow, Barbara Epstein and Kevin Anderson

Related Thompsons

Edward and Dorothy Thompson's daughter, Kate, is a novelist, best known for her books for young readers.

Edward's brother Frank was sent to Bulgaria with the British SOE. There has been an upsurge of interest him in recent years.

Their father, Edward John, was a missionary and writer with strong connections to India.

E.J. Thompson 1886 - 1946

Faced with a choice between banking and missionary work, Edward John Thompson, (E. P. Thompson's father), chose the latter. He was not well suited to the work, but he became deeply involved with Indian life on many levels and over many decades. His prolific writings included poetry, novels, history and politics, and his enthusiasm for Indian culture and politics brought him into contact with many of the country’s leading statesmen and artists. Upon returning from India he settled in Oxford where he translated and taught Bengali.

Most of these are out of print now, though the odd one can be found in open sources online such as Project Gutenberg. Some of them are being reprinted by POD pubishers in the USA, which mass-scan out-of-copyright volumes. The quality of these can be very poor. 


Damascus Lies North

The Other Side of the Medal

The Youngest Disciple (Hb & Pb)

The Leicestershires Beyond Baghdad

Introducing the Arnisons

John Arnison

John in Prison

So A Poor Ghost

Crusader’s Coast

In Araby Orion

Burmese Silver

An Indian Day

The Youngest Disciple

Night Falls on Shiva’s Hill

These Men, Thy Friends

A Farewell to India

Beyond Baghdad with the Leicestershires

Lament for Adonis


The Knight Mystic

O World Invisible (Anthology of Poetry, compiled by)

The Knight Mystic and other poems, 1907

Benn’s Augustan Poetry (Pamphlet)

Collected Poems 1930

The Soldier’s War (EJT et al)

Waltham Thickets

Vae Victis

Mesopotamian Verses

Poems, 1902-1925

Via Triumphalis

The Thracian Stranger


Sir Walter Raleigh

The Life of Charles Lord Metcalfe

Robert Bridges


Rise and Fulfilment of British Rule in India (w.Garratt)

Ethical Ideals in India Today

The Making of the Indian Princes

Rabindranath Tagore, Poet and Dramatist

Rabindranath Tagore, His Life and Work

The Reconstruction of India

Reconstructing India

A Letter from India

A History of India (Benn’s 6d)

Enlist India for Freedom

Robert Bridges


Bengali Religious Lyrics (w Spencer)

The Curse at Farewell. Tagore, translated by EJT


You Have Lived Through All This


Three Eastern Plays (w Theo)

Last Voyage (with Theo)

Plays and Pageants

Krishna Kumari


The Enchanted Lady

Saul, a Drama

Essex and Elizabeth


Anthology of Verse for Indian Schools

Handbook of English Prosody for Indian Students


"India's Prisoner": A Biography of Edward John Thompson, 1886-1946 by Mary Lago - University of Missouri Press, 2000

A Difficult Friendship: Letters of Edward Thompson and Rabindranath Tagore 1913 - 1940 by Uma Das Gupta - OUP India, 2003

Alien Homage: Edward Thompson and Rabindranath Tagore by E. P. Thompson - OUP India, 1993

Frank Thompson 1920 - 1944

Frank Thompson was Edward Thompson's older brother. He volunteered for the army early in the war and, following a number of overseas postings,became part of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). In 1944 he was sent to liaise with the partisans in Bulgaria, where he was captured by the Bulgarian authorities and executed. The story has been recorded by historians of the period, both in Bulgaria and Britain, and he is the subject of a recent biography. There is a village in the Svoge municipality in Bulgaria named after him. He left behind a small body of poems, the best of which were collected in a volume in 2003.

Polliciti Meliora

As one who, gazing at a vista

Of beauty, sees the clouds close in,

And turns his back in sorrow, hearing

The thunder-claps begin.


So we, whose life was all before us,

Our hearts with sunlight filled,

Left in the hills our books and flowers,

Descended, and were killed.


Write on the stones no words of sadness -

Only the gladness due,

That we, who asked the most of living,

Knew how to give it too.



Frank Thompson's Selected Poems - Trent Editions, 2003


There Is A Spirit In Europe. A Memoir of Frank Thompson - Theodosia Thompson and EP Thompson - Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1947

Beyond the Frontier: Politics of a Failed Mission - Bulgaria, 1944 - E. P. Thompson (Ed Dorothy Thompson) - The Merlin Press Ltd, 1997

A Very English Hero: The Making of Frank Thompson - Peter J. Conradi - Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012

Agents Extraordinary - Stowers Johnson - Robert Hale Ltd, 1975

The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe - Kristen Ghodsee - Duke University Press, 2015


For more information, contact Kate Thompson.