Cole, G(eorge) D(ouglas) H(oward) 1889-1959

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COLE, G(eorge) D(ouglas) H(oward) 1889-1959

PERSONAL: Born September 25, 1889, in Cambridge, England; died January 14, 1959; son of George Cole; married Margaret Isabel Postgate (a lecturer and writer), 1918; children: one son, two daughters. Education: Attended Balliol College, Oxford.

CAREER: Head of Research Department, Amalgamated Society of Engineers, 1914-18; trade union adviser during World War I; head of Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey during World War II; fellow, Magdalene College; fellow, All Souls College, Oxford, England, 1944-57; Chichele professor of social and political theory, Oxford University, 1944-57; sub-warden, later fellow, Nuffield College, Oxford, England, 1957-59; staff member, New Statesman, London, England.

MEMBER: Fabian Society (chair of executive committee, 1939-46, 1948-50), University Socialist Federation, Independent Labour Party, Guild Socialist Movement, British Labour Party (director of research department), Association of Tutors in Adult Education (founder and president), Board of International Institute of Social History, Library at Oxford University.

AWARDS, HONORS: Honorary fellow, University College and Balliol College, Oxford University.



The Brooklyn Murders, Seltzer Publishing (New York, NY), 1924.

The Death of a Millionaire, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1925.

The Blatchington Tangle, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1926.

The Murder at Crowe House, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1927.

The Man from the River, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1928.

Poison in the Garden Suburb, Payson and Clark (New York, NY), 1929.

Burglars in Bucks, Brewer and Warren (New York, NY), 1930.

Corpse in Canoncials, Morrow (New York, NY), 1931.

The Great Southern Mystery, Morrow (New York, NY), 1931.

The Floating Admiral, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1932.

Dead Man's Watch, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1932.

Death of a Star, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1933.

The Affair at Aliquid, Collins (London, England), 1933.

End of an Ancient Mariner, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1936.

Death in the Quarry, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1935.

Big Business Murder, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1935.

Dr. Tandexter Begins; or, The Pendexter Saga, First Canto, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1935.

Scandal at School, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1936.

Last Will and Testament; or, The Pendexter Saga, Second Canto, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1936.

The Brothers Sackville, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1937.

Disgrace to the College, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 1937.

The Missing Aunt, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1938.

Off with Her Head!, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1939.

Double Blackmail, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1939.

Greek Tragedy, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1940.

Murder at the Munitions Works, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1940.

Counterpoint Murder, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1941.

Knife in the Dark, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1942.

Toper's End, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1942.


Superintendent Wilson's Holiday, Payson and Clark (New York, NY), 1929.

A Lesson in Crime and Other Stories, Collins (London, England), 1933.

Mrs. Warrender's Profession, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1939.

Wilson and Some Others, Collins (London, England), 1940.

Death in the Tankard, Todd (London, England), 1940.

Strychnine Tonic, Todd (London, England), 1940.

Birthday Gifts and Other Stories, Todd (London, England), 1946.


The Record (privately printed), 1912.

New Beginnings, and The Record, Blackwell (Oxford, England), 1914.

The Crooked World, Gollancz (London, England), 1933.


(With William Mellor) The Greater Unionism, National Labor Press (Manchester, England), 1913.

The World of Labor: A Discussion of the Present and Future of Trade Unionism, Bell Publishers (London, England), 1915.

(With William Mellor) Trade Unionism in Wartime, Limit (London, England), 1915.

The Principles of Socialism: A Syllabus, University of Socialist Federation (London, England), 1917.

Self Government in Industry, Bell (London, England), 1917, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1971.

The British Labor Movement: A Syllabus for Study Circles, University of Socialist Federation (London, England), 1917.

An Introduction to Trade Unionism, Allen and Unwin (London, England), 1917.

Trade Unionism on the Railroads, Allen and Unwin (London, England), 1917.

Labour in the Commonwealth; A Book for the Younger Generation, Hubesch (New York, NY), 1920.

Chaos and Order in Industry, Stokes Publishing (New York, NY), 1920.

Guild Socialism, Stokes Publishing (New York, NY), 1921.

English Economic History, Labour Research Department (London, England), 1922.

Unemployment: A Short Syllabus, Labour Research Department (London, England), 1923.

Out of Work: An Introduction to the Study of Unemployment, Labour Research Department (London, England), 1923.

Trade Unions and Munitions, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1923.

Rents, Rings, and Houses, Labour Research Department (London, England), 1923.

The Life of William Cobbett, Harcourt Brace (New York, NY), 1924.

The Place of the Workers' Educational Association in Working Class Education, Blackfriars Press (London, England), c. 1924.

Robert Owen, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1925.

A Short History of the British Working Class Movement, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1938.

The Next Ten Years of British Social and Economic Policy, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1939.

The Bank of England, Society for Socialist Inquiry and Propaganda (London, England), 1931.

How Capitalism Works, Society for Socialist Inquiry and Propaganda (London, England), 1931.

The Crisis: What It Is, How It Arose, What to Do, New Statesman and Nation (London, England), 1931.

British Trade and Industry, Past and Future, Macmillan (New York), 1932.

Banks and Credit, Society for Socialist Inquiry and Propaganda (London, England), 1932.

The Essentials of Socialisation, New Fabian Research Bureau (London, England), 1932.

War Debts and Reparations; What They Are, Why They Must Be Cancelled, New Statesman and Nation (London, England), 1932.

The Intelligent Man's Guide through World Chaos, Gollancz (London, England), 1932.

Some Essentials of Socialist Propaganda, Fabian Society (London, England), 1932.

Modern Theories and Forms of Industrial Organisation, Gollancz (London, England), 1932.

The Gold Standard, Society for Socialist Inquiry and Propaganda (London, England), 1932.

The Intelligent Man's Guide to Europe Today, Knopf (New York, NY), 1933.

What Is Socialism? Letters to a Young Inquirer, Gollancz (London, England), 1933.

A Guide to Modern Politics, Gollancz (London, England), 1934.

Some Relations between Political and Economic Theory, Gollancz (London, England), 1934.

What Marx Really Meant, Knopf (New York, NY), 1934.

The Simple Case for Socialism, Gollancz (London, England), 1935.

The Condition of Britain, Gollancz (London, England), 1935.

The People's Front, Gollancz (London, England), 1937.

Practical Economics; or, Studies in Economic Planning, Penguin Books (London, England), 1937.

(With Raymond Postgate) The Common People 1746-1936, Knopf (New York, NY), 1947.

Living Wages: A Case for a New Minimum Wage, Gollancz (London, England), 1938.

Persons and Periods: Studies, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1938.

Socialism in Evolution, Penguin Books (London, England), 1938.

British Trade Unionism Today: A Survey, with the Collaboration of Thirty Trade Union Leaders, Barnes and Noble (New York, NY), 1955.

British Working Class Politics: 1834-1914, Routledge (London, England), 1941.

James Kier Hardie, Gollancz (London, England), 1941.

Chartist Portraits, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1965.

Europe, Russia and the Future, Gollancz (London, England), 1941.

The War on the Home Front, Fabian Society (London, England), 1941.

Victory of Vested Interest?, Routledge (London, England), 1942.

The Fabian Society, Past and Present, Fabian Society (London, England), 1942.

Richard Carlile, 1790-1843, Gollancz (London, England), 1943.

John Burns, Gollancz (London, England), 1943.

The Means to Full Employment, Gollancz (London, England), 1943.

Reparations and the Future of German Industry, Fabian Society (London, England), 1945.

The Intelligent Man's Guide to the Post-War World, Gollancz (London, England), 1947.

Samuel Butler and The Way of All Flesh, Swallow Books (Denver, CO), 1948.

A History of the Labour Party from 1914, Routledge (London, England), 1948.

The Meaning of Marxism, Gollancz (London, England), 1948.

Introduction to Economic History 1750-1950, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1960.

A History of Socialist Thought, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1960.


(With G. P. Dennis and Sherard Vines) Oxford Poetry 1910-1913, Blackwell (Oxford, England), 1913.

(With Sherard Vines) Oxford Poetry 1914, Blackwell (Oxford, England), 1914.

(With T. W. Earp) Oxford Poetry 1915, Blackwell (Oxford, England), 1915.

The Library of Social Studies, Methuen (London, England), 1920.

(With Margaret Cole) The Bolo Book (political songs), Allen and Unwin (London, England), 1921.

(With Margaret Cole) The Ormond Poets, Noel Douglas (London, England), 1927-28.

William Cobbett, The Life and Adventures of Peter Porcupine, Nonesuch Press (London, England), 1927.

What Everybody Wants to Know about Money, Gollancz (London, England), 1935.

William Morris, Stories in Verse, Stories in Prose, Shorter Poems, Lectures and Essays, Random House (New York, NY), 1934.

Studies in Capital and Investment, Gollancz (London, England), 1935.

Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, Gollancz (London, England), 1937.

Letters to Edward Thorton, Written in the Years 1792 to 1800 by William Cobbett, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1937.

The Essential Samuel Butler, Dutton (New York, NY), 1950.

(With A. W. Filson) British Working Class Movements, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1965.

General editor, "Oxford Studies in Economics and Hutchinson's University Library."


The Social Contract and Discourse of Rousseau, Dutton (New York, NY), 1935.

Henri de Man, Planned Socialism, Gollancz (London, England), 1935.

SIDELIGHTS: G. D. H. Cole was a prolific and renowned Socialist political theorist, economist, and journalist of the early twentieth century. According to Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction, Cole came to mystery-writing solely "as a cure for the boredom which attended a long recuperation from a mild case of pneumonia." Detective stories were in fashion with the English intelligentsia in the years between the two world wars, and Cole, who was an avid reader of mystery stories, decided to try his hand at writing one.

Cole came to public prominence in 1913, with the publication of his first book, The World of Labor, and quickly followed up with a number of other books on economics, socialism, and social history. Thus established by the 1920s as an eminent author of nonfiction, he had no trouble finding a publisher for his first novel. The plot of The Brooklyn Murders is straightforward—two nephews of Sir Vernon Brooklyn, who are also his heirs, have been murdered—but it is Cole's exploration of greed as a motivation for crime that is of most importance to the book. Throughout his years of writing mysteries the author, a longtime member of the Fabian Society, often delved into the miseries and behavioral changes that money could induce in human beings.

A second novel, The Death of a Millionaire, marked the beginning of the partnership between Cole and his wife Margaret, also a social historian, who became known as a biographer of Beatrice Webb. A contributor to Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction wrote, "More radical than her husband, and more often more intense in her espousal of Socialist economic principles, Margaret Cole nevertheless possessed a finely honed sense of humour which somewhat softened her criticism of capitalism in the mysteries she would co-author." While The Death of a Millionaire concerns the financial world, depicted with a suitably socialist eye as corrupt and sordid, the book includes a touch of humor, and the lessons in socialist economic theory that the authors impart do not detract from the mystery.

Many of the Coles' stories exhibit the charm and wit often associated with the British upper class. "The repartee of the gentleman's club and college senior common room," noted Twentieth Century Crime and Mystery Writers, "is often echoed in the remarks of the men and women who people their books."

With succeeding books the authors became known for creating ongoing characters that were alive and memorable to their readers. In The Blatchington Tangle, Detective Henry Wilson encounters amateur sleuth Everard Blatchington. Among the protagonists is an obnoxious American who immediately becomes a suspect when the body of a crooked financier is found in Lord Blatchington's library.

The Coles used humor and interesting settings to give depth to their characterizations. "Scandal at School," noted a writer for Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction, "contains an air of authenticity born of long association with the academic world." End of an Ancient Mariner is less a mystery—the culprit is identified early in the story—than a psychological novel of crime, punishment, and motivation.

Dr. Tancred Begins; or, The Pendexter Saga, First Canto introduces a new character and a well-described Cornwall as a setting for the mysteries to unfold. The Coles wrote only two books featuring Dr. Tancred, the other being Last Will and Testament; or, The Pendexter Saga, Second Canto, but both were well received.

One of the Coles' last works, Murder at the Munitions Works, published in 1940 when the turmoil caused by Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists was still sweeping England, became popular not only as a mystery but as a primer of British socialist economic theory. After World War II, the couple gave up writing mysteries to focus on nonfiction and on the more important work of stabilizing and rebuilding their country. While some of his radical views kept him out of the Labour party government of Clement Attlee, Cole continued to publish his ideas and give lectures until his death in 1959.

Jeanne F. Bedell, writing in Twentieth-Century Crime and Mystery Writers, notes that Margaret Cole, in The Life of G. D. H. Cole, "dismisses in two pages the detective fiction she and her husband coauthored. Both viewed the detective stories as a pleasant, undemanding sideline, and Dame Margaret's view [was] that the books are 'competent but no more." Bedell concludes, "G. D. H. Cole's reputation will, of course, rest on his studies of social and economic history, especially the classic five-volume History of Socialist Thought."

Cole's life's work can be seen as an definitive guide to all British socialist concerns. He was an invaluable historian of the Labor movement and contributed to the development of British labor policy. "Almost half a century later," wrote Bedell, "he remained influential as an inspirational force behind the nascent New Left, and he lived to see an official Parliamentary Labour party established as a major governing party."



Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction, edited by Frank N. Magill, Salem Press (Pasadena, CA), 1998.

Twentieth-Century Crime and Mystery Writers, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1991.*

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Cole, G(eorge) D(ouglas) H(oward) 1889-1959

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