Friday, 2 March 2012

William Lovett: autobiography of a Chartist

William Lovett occupies a pivotal place in the history of Chartism. He drafted the People’s Charter, was secretary to the London Working Men’s Association, and subsequently served as secretary to the first Chartist Convention of 1839.

Importantly, William Lovett also wrote and published an autobiography. The Life and Struggles of William Lovett first appeared in 1876 and provides a useful insight into the life of this fascinating man and his perspective on the world.

The full text of Lovett’s autobiography has been transcribed and can now be found on the ever excellent Minor Victorian Poets and Authors website.

It is well worth reading the introduction by the socialist philosopher R H Tawney which appeared in later editions, particularly because it draws attention to the viewpoint from which Lovett wrote and to the gaps in what he had to say about Chartism.

There is already an enormous volume of work by Chartists on the Minor Victorian Poets and Authors website, and more is planned, including the full text of Chartism: a New Organization of the People, written by William Lovett and John Collins in 1840 while both were in Warwick Gaol.

There is also more about William Lovett on Chartist Ancestors, including
A biographical sketch of William Lovett taken from The Charter newspaper of 17 March 1839;
An article on William Lovett and Knowledge Chartism; and
William Lovett’s own all-too-brief account of the First Chartist Convention.

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