Robert Lowery, Radical and Chartist

Robert Lowery, Radical and Chartist

Robert Lowery, Radical and Chartist

Robert Lowery, Radical and Chartist

Excerpt

Robert Lowery's autobiography is so well written, so detailed and so early in its date, that one might have expected it to become a major historical source. R. G. Gammage consultedLowery when compiling his History of the Chartist Movement, and William Lovett famous Life and Struggles (1876) relies on "a series of articles written by Mr.Robert Lowery, one of our convention, and published in the Temperance Weekly Record" for the origins of the Chartist newspaper the Northern Star. Lovett may have misled historians by abbreviating the title of the journal, The Weekly Record of the Temperance Movement; and by failing to state the date of publication, he condemned historians to forage about in a periodical which ran for many years. But a much more likely explanation for the neglect of Lowery's autobiography is simply that historians of nineteenth-century England have only recently interested themselves in the Victorian Liberal Party's popular base, and in the many reforming movements which enabled Liberals to develop links with working men. Only recently, then, could The Weekly Record of the Temperance Movement have found readers interested in both the Chartist and temperance movements.

Lowery's memoir, some 80,000 words in all, consists of 33 articles published in the Weekly Record at irregular intervals between 15 April 1856 and 23 May 1857. It is reprinted here in full, together with some of his other writing, letters, reports of his speeches, and a pamphlet. Obvious printer's errors have been removed, but the original spelling and punctuation have been retained. Lowery (whose name was quite often spelt "Lowry" or "Lowrey" by others, but always "Lowery" by himself) never publicly put his name to the autobiography, but it is quite clear that he wrote it. Three aspects of the autobiography seem worth discussing here: its contribution to our understanding of working class history; its status as autobiographical literature; and its . . .

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