Making socialists

Mary Bridges Adams and the fight for knowledge and power, 1855–1939

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Jane Martin
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This book revisits the history of British socialism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the light of the life and work of Mary Bridges Adams. Mary's activities within the Labour movement, and as a campaigner for improvements in working-class education, challenged established elites in ways that are important for understanding of this watershed period. The book first contains an overview of Mary's life with a focus on her route into the socialist movement. Then, the book presents micro-histories and uses prosopography to show that socialism is both lifestyle and a form of organised political activism. It puts these elements together to provide a bridge between the social, political and education history. The discussion of the issue of parental choice, considered in relation to her son's education biography, acts as mediator between the personal and the political, to examine the importance of education to the pioneering generation of British socialists. The book also contains a discussion of different aspects of Mary's political practice, in an attempt to formulate a new interpretation of the making of the British welfare state. It injects a gendered dimension into the analysis of the independent working-class education movement and examines Mary's social action and milieu in the First World War.

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