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Tom Maguire (1866-1895) was a pioneer socialist and trade unionist, who was born, lived, and died in Leeds.


"Maguire, a working-class Leeds socialist, poet, journalist, and labor organizer, died on 9 March 1895 at the age of twenty-nine. In his short life he contributed significantly to the rise of socialism in late nineteenth-century Britain, and his contributions were both literary and organizational.... Maguire was a leader in instigating the tide of New Unionism—the effort to broaden the scope of organized labor to include unskilled and semi-skilled workers—that swept Leeds in a number of important strikes from 1889 to '90, including strikes by dyers, gas workers, tailoresses, builders, laborers, and bricklayers. From 1885 to 1895 he also published a great deal of poetry, songs, fiction, and journalism in radical papers such as Commonweal, the Labor Leader, and the Yorkshire Factory Times, as well as his own socialist paper, the Labor Champion. Interestingly, many of his poems feature working-class women speakers, reflecting his experience in organizing Leeds tailoresses, and his journalistic writing is also notable for its play in voice, persona, and perspective.... In the end, Maguire became worn out waiting to hear the fife and drumming: he died alone, impoverished, and in a state of depression and alcoholism. As E.P. Thompson describes, 'his early maturity seemed to be giving way to a premature middle-age.... Not yet 30, he was to be found more and more often drinking in the Leeds Central I. L. P. Club, telling stories of the old days.' Impoverished and sick, Maguire contracted pneumonia, and was found in his home without food or fuel; he died shortly after. But his funeral offered one more chance for Maguire to assemble a vast crowd to join together in song: over 1,000 mourners joined the procession, singing together. It was, in J. Bruce Glasier's memory, an 'unusual, almost an imposing procession of his comrades in Leeds and neighboring Yorkshire towns.' They 'followed his body, borne shoulder high, to the grave.'"

—Elizabeth Carolyn Miller, "Tom Maguire: 'An Under-Paid Agitator' in the Late-Victorian Socialist Press," Philological Quarterly 91:1 (Winter 2012)


Hey for the Day!
March, March, Comrades All


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