George Howell, the Webbs and the political culture of early labour history
in Labour and working-class lives
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This chapter examines George Howell's historical writings and considers how far these reflected his political views and shaped his contemporary reputation. The extent of Howell's emotional investment in his historical writing is evident in his diaries and unpublished autobiography. Howell dissected each review, for example from the Daily Chronicle, the Atheneum, the Daily News and the Manchester Guardian. The historical section of the 1891 Trade Unionism New and Old was shorter than The Conflicts of Capital and Labour, the bulk of the later work being devoted to analysing the new unionism of the 1880s. Howell's concept of trade unions 'as successors to the old gilds' is open to criticism on a number of grounds. In the official biography of Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Howell's historical efforts were swatted aside as 'simply a plagiarism from Lujo Brentano'.

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