My Life's Battles
My Life’s Battles is one of the first true working-class autobiographies, the story of Will Thorne, who helped to make a better world for ordinary people. Thorne’s life story is a journey from tenements and factories to the corridors of power and the barricades of the Russian Revolution.
Will Thorne’s autobiography begins with his working life as a six-year-old child labourer. He describes how his politics were then shaped by his adventures with the tramping navvies, and forged among the roaring furnaces of the Beckton Gasworks in East London. As a semi-skilled industrial labourer, he founded the Gasworkers’ Union, campaigned on behalf of the unemployed and fought for the Eight Hour Day. Eleanor Marx helped him learn to read and write. He eventually became the General Secretary of the General and Municipal Workers’ union, and was an East London MP for forty years.
Along the way, Thorne was an active participant in the early struggles of British socialism and the labour movement. In particular he was a key figure in the development of New Unionism at the end of the nineteenth century.
Published in association with the GMB
Foreword: 125 Fighting Years by Paul Kenny - FREE CHAPTER
Introduction by John Callow
Work and Play
Strikes, Riots and Work
Old London Days
The Birth of My Union
The Big Dock Strike
Union Building and the ‘South Met’
Friendship and Fights
My First Congress
Across the Atlantic
I go to Russia
Parliament and the Prince
‘A must-read book for all trade unionists and activists today interested in our history.’