page contents

Mark Starr (1894-1985) was an American socialist educator originally from England.

"Mark Starr was a major figure in the Plebs League and The National Council of Labour Colleges before emigrating to the United States in the late twenties. He was born in Shoscombe in the Somerset coalfield in 1894 in an area which was both radical in politics and Methodist in religion. After leaving school in 1907, he worked as a builder's mortar boy for a year before working as a coalminer in the local mines at Radstock. In 1913 he moved to South Wales and soon after won a Rhondda Miners' Scholarship to the Central Labour College in Earl's Court, London. His study was interrupted by the first world war; registering as a conscientious objector he was allowed to go back to the mines rather than the armed forces in 1914 but in 1917 he was arrested and sent to Wormwood Scrubs and Dartmoor. On his release, in 1919, he was allowed by his union to finish his Labour College course. From 1921, he was one of two divisional organizers for the National Council of Labour Colleges, working in the Eastern Counties Region. His working week involved Sunday classes in Norwich, Ipswich and Felixstowe, Monday in Colchester, Tuesday in Braintree and then later in the week, he taught Esperanto in Bethnal Green for the London County Council. In 1922 and in 1924, he was Labour Party parliamentary candidate for Wimbledon in the national elections. He was a prolific propagandist, writing A Worker Looks at History, in 1917, based on articles he had written for the Merthyr Pioneer, A Worker Looks at Economics (1925) and most important of all, Lies and Hate in Education (1928), a polemic against patriotic, nationalist education and a valuable sourcebook of information on education in the twenties. He was a correspondent for a Ukranian Esperanto journal in the twenties (Pedagogia Revro) and when later he worked at Brookwood, the New York Labour College, he was a correspondent for the paper of 'One Big Union,' based in Winnipeg. In 1928, he began working at Brookwood, teaching courses on the history of British labour in exchange for his board. In 1935, he became the educational director for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in New York and after his retirement in 1960 he became Chairman of the Esperanto Information Centre, acted as an advisor on workers' education internationally and taught Esperanto in New York."

—Martin Lawn

The Old Chiseller


Leave a comment: