Published 2nd May 2016
AUTHOR: JAMES LEATHAM
Paperback, 430 pages
Publisher:The Deveron Press www.thedeveronpress.scot
Distributor: Ayton Publishing Limited www.aytonpublishing.co.uk
Available direct online sales from www.unco.scot
Pre-order HERE from April 1st 2016.
Originally serialised in Leatham’s own Gateway Journal between 1940 and 1945 this autobiography has never been published in its entirety.
James Leatham (1865-1945) was a printer, publisher and social pioneer. He also wrote extensively. From his early years in Aberdeen – where he set up the first Socialist Weekly Newspaper The Worker’s Herald in 1891 - to his activism in Manchester in the late 1890s - where he was instrumental in obtaining an 8 hours work deal for workers in the print trade (activity which saw him blacklisted from work in the city) - and his setting up of The Gateway Journal in 1912 - which ran for 33 years and ran to 361 editions - he was often in the thick of the push towards socialism. A committed co-operative collectivist, he never found a home in the socialist political organisations. Instead, he stood apart, observing the great social struggles of the first half of the 20th century from the margins. His writings on political, social and cultural issues span over 60 years and are fascinating both in their breadth, their content and their insight.
Aged 50 he moved to the small rural Aberdeenshire town of Turriff, where he campaigned tirelessly for Municipal Housing, became the first Socialist Provost in 1933 and was awarded an MBE in 1942 for his services to local government. He is buried in St. Machar Cathedral churchyard in Aberdeen and his gravestone inscription reads: James Leatham, 1865-1945: Man of Letters; Pioneer of Social Reform.
He published predominantly penny pamphlets and threepenny magazines as well as several longer studies both biographical and on social/political subjects. His ‘propaganda press’ more or less died with him, subject to the gagging restrictions of a 70 year copyright. At the end of 2015 this was lifted and the Deveron Press has been resurrected to bring his writing back into the public consciousness.
In 60 Years of World-Mending, Leatham writes about the famous figures of the day: from Keir Hardie and Ramsay MacDonald to George Bernard Shaw and William Morris as well as about many other figures who never shared the limelight but whose contributions to the birth of socialism were significant. His autobiography (cut short by his death aged 79 in 1945) offers a unique insight and individual perspective on Britain over a tempestuous time. It is social history at its finest and Deveron Press are happy to publish this hidden gem for the first time to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Leatham’s foundation of this publishing enterprise.