Centenary edition of influential book is published by council

Steve Peak, Cllr Peter Chowney, Cllr Bruce Dowling and Cllr Warren Davies
Steve Peak, Cllr Peter Chowney, Cllr Bruce Dowling and Cllr Warren Davies

A special centenary edition of one of the most influential books in modern times has been published.

Hastings Borough Council has printed the 100th anniversary edition of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, written by Robert Tressell.

The book, which was first published in April 1914, is often said to be one of the most influential books ever written, telling the story of how ordinary people were forced to lead lives of poverty, exploitation and misery.

Written by Tressell, it features the provincial town of Mugsborough, or Hastings and St Leonards in the early 1900s.

The book focuses on how the task of ordinary working people in the building trade was to make their employers wealthy, meaning the workers were philanthropists.

It was so moving that it strongly influenced the creation of the welfare state set up after the Second World War, and inspired much radicalism in the labour movement in the following decades.

Cllr Bruce Dowling, Mayor of Hastings, said: “As a community, we have come a long way from the era in which Robert Tressell lived but the book and its message and strong characters still resonate with many readers worldwide.

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists features identifiable sites around Hastings and St Leonards and some of the characters and events can even be traced back to real people and situations that happened at the time Robert lived in Hastings.

“I am very proud that we have published this book at the centenary and hope that new and old readers alike will enjoy this very special edition.”

Cllr Peter Chowney, the council’s lead member for regeneration, said: “This is a unique 100th anniversary edition which includes images of Hastings surrounding the life and times of Robert Tressell.

“Our thanks must go to Steve Peak, local historian, who has put so much work into the research to provide us with extraordinary images and a comprehensive introduction for this anniversary edition”

“The book is now available to buy at £2.99 from the Tourist Information Centre at Breeds Place.”