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Arthur Horner: A Political Biography Vols 1 & 2

Nina Fishman (1946-2009)

Guardian obituary by Donald Sassoon

Independent obituary by Geoffrey Goodman

Nina Fishman Archive

Arthur Horner: A Political BiographyArthur Horner: A Political Biography


Foreword by Eric Hobsbawm, Afterword by Hywel Francis

Arthur Horner (1894-1968) was a miners’ leader from the 1926 general strike to his retirement as general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers in 1959. During his life he played a crucial role in the fight for a national mineworkers union, and in the development of the National Coal Board; he was a champion of the Republicans in Spain; he was imprisoned several times for his views; and he was in constant demand as a speaker. But it was his warmth, good humour and enthusiasm which made ‘little Arthur’, as he was affectionately known by his union colleagues, really memorable.

Coming from a working-class family, and being forced by poverty to leave school at the age of eleven, Horner devoted his life to the struggle for socialism. He was a committed communist, but was also able to exercise effective leadership in a major trade union committed to social democratic principles, playing a key role in the social democratic settlement after the second world war. This biography documents admirably the major contribution Horner made to trade unionism, and to the creation of a social democratic commonwealth in postwar Britain.

‘Nina Fishman’s book is, at last, a worthy record of the significant contributions to the working class and the history of twentieth century Britain by a very remarkable man.’
Eric Hobsbawm

‘Arthur Horner was a towering, but also a paradoxical figure – a lifelong Communist and fearless champion of his people, who was also an industrial statesman trusted by employers and governments alike. Nina Fishman’s biography brings him to life, with all his baffling complexities. She combines meticulous scholarship, psychological insight and mastery of the complex economic and political context. In doing so she has filled a major gap in British labour history.’
Professor David Marquand, former Principal, Mansfield College, Oxford

‘Nina Fishman’s biography of Arthur Horner fills an important gap in the history of coal-mining trade unionism in Wales, Britain and internationally. Arthur Horner was one of the outstanding trade union leaders of the twentieth century … the key figure in the creation of the National Union of Mineworkers and the National Coal Board in the post-war period. His contribution was a lasting one, much admired by succeeding generations of union leaders. Nina Fishman has faithfully and critically recorded this in rich detail.’
Hywel Francis, MP for Aberavon

‘Had he not insisted on remaining a member of the Communist Party Horner would almost certainly have been a Labour Cabinet Minister and perhaps a chairman of the National Coal Board. In any event he was the most remarkably talented general secretary of the post-war National Union of Mineworkers when that union was at the height of its powers. Professor Nina Fishman’s magnum opus biography of Horner will have lasting status as a classic historic work on this truly giant figure of the British labour movement. It is a superb work of research, analysis and wisdom.
Geoffrey Goodman

Nina Fishman was Professor of Industrial and Labour Movement History at Westminster University from 2004-2007 and Honorary Research Professor in the Department of History and Classics at Swansea University from 2007-2009. She has written widely on labour movement history. Her previous publications include The British Communist Party and the Trade Unions 1933-1945 (1995); and (as co-editor, with Geoff Andrews and Kevin Morgan) Opening the Books: Essays on the Cultural and Social History of the Communist Party (1995).

Volume 1 1894-1944 (Hardback ) £35
ISBN 9781 907103 056, 608pp Publication date 25th March 2010
Volume 2 1944-1968(Hardback ) £35
ISBN 9781 907103 063, 608pp Publication date 25th March 2010

All rights Lawrence & Wishart Vols1&2together

Vol 1: £35


Vol 2: £35


Vol 1 & 2 together: £47.50