Laybourn, Keith 1946–

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Laybourn, Keith 1946–

PERSONAL:

Born 1946, in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England; son of Donald (a coal miner); married, 1971; children: three. Education: University of Bradford, B.Sc., 1967; University of Manchester, P.G.C.E., 1968; University of Lancaster, M.A., 1969, Ph.D., 1973. Politics: "Old Labour." Religion: Anglican.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Leeds, Yorkshire, England. Office—School of Music, Humanities and Media, West Bldg., University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire HD1 3DH, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Huddersfield Polytechnic (now University of Huddersfield), Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England, assistant lecturer, 1971-72, lecturer, 1972-74, senior lecturer, 1974-91, Open University tutor, 1981-91, professor of history, 1991—. Peer reviewer, Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2004—.

MEMBER:

Royal Historical Society (fellow).

WRITINGS:

(Editor, with Gary Firth and J. O'Connell) Yorkshire Labour Movements c. 1780-1926: A Guide to Historical Sources and Their Uses, University of Leeds School of Education (Leeds, West Yorkshire, England), 1980.

(Editor, with Gary Firth and James Hagerty) Yorkshire at Play: A Guide to Historical Sources and Their Uses, University of Leeds School of Education (Leeds, West Yorkshire, England), 1982.

(With Jack Reynolds) Liberalism and the Rise of Labour, 1890-1918, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1984.

(With Jack Reynolds) Labour Heartland: The Labour Party in West Yorkshire during the Inter-War Years, 1918-1939, University of Bradford (Bradford, West Yorkshire, England), 1987.

(Editor, with D. James) Philip Snowden, Bradford Metro, 1987.

Philip Snowden: A Biography, 1864-1937, Gower Publishing (Aldershot, Hampshire, England), 1988.

The Rise of Labour: The History of the British Labor Party, 1890-1979, E. Arnold (Baltimore, MD), 1988.

The Labour Party 1890-1951: A Reader in History, Alan Sutton (Stroud, Gloucestershire, England), 1988.

Britain on the Breadline: A History of Britain during the Inter-War Years, Alan Sutton (Stroud, Gloucestershire, England), 1990.

British Trade Unionism, 1770-1990: A Reader in History, Alan Sutton (Stroud, Gloucestershire, England), 1991.

A History of British Trade Unionism, c. 1770-1990, Alan Sutton (Stroud, Gloucestershire, England), 1992.

(Editor, with David James and Tony Jowitt) The Centennial History of the Independent Labour Party: A Collection of Essays, Ryburn Academic (Krumlin, Yorkshire, England), 1992.

The General Strike of 1926, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.

The Guild of Help and the Changing Face of Edwardian Philanthropy: The Guild of Help, Voluntary Work, and the State, 1904-1919, Edwin Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 1994.

The Evolution of British Social Policy and the Welfare State, c. 1800-1993, Keele University Press (Keele, Staffordshire, England), 1995.

The General Strike Day by Day, Sutton (Stroud, Gloucestershire, England), 1996.

The Rise of Socialism in Britain, c. 1881-1951, Alan Sutton (Stroud, Gloucestershire, England), 1997.

(Editor) Social Conditions, Status and Community, 1860-1920, Sutton (Stroud, Gloucestershire, England), 1997.

Modern Britain since 1906: A Reader, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor, with Keith Dockray) Representations and Reality of War: The British Experience, Sutton (Stroud, Gloucestershire, England), 1999.

(With Dylan Murphy) Under the Red Flag: Communism in Britain, Sutton (Stroud, Gloucestershire, England), 1999.

A Century of Labour: A History of the Labour Party, 1900-2000, Sutton (Stroud, Gloucestershire, England), 2000.

(Editor) British Political Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary, ABC-Clio (Santa Barbara, CA), 2001.

Unemployment and Employment Policies concerning Women in Britain, 1900-1951, Edwin Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 2002.

Fifty Key Figures in Twentieth-Century British Politics, Routledge (New York, NY), 2002.

(Editor, with Christine Collette) Modern Britain since 1979: A Reader, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2003.

Marxism in Britain: Dissent, Decline and Re-Emergence 1945-c. 2000, Routledge (New York, NY), 2006.

(With John Shepherd) Britain's First Labour Government, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2006.

Working-Class Gambling in Britain, c. 1906-1960s: The Stages of the Political Debate, Edwin Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 2007.

(Editor, with John Lancaster, Brendan Evans, and Brian Haigh) The Sons and Daughters of Labour: The Labour Movement in the West Riding of Yorkshire, University of Huddersfield Press (Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England), 2007.

Contributor to books, including Labour Leaders, edited by K. Jefferys, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1999; The Labour Party: A Centenary History, edited by B. Brivati and R. Heffernan, Palgrave, 2000; and The Oxford Companion of Twentieth-Century British Politics, edited by John Ramsden, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002. Contributor to academic journals, including Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, Urban Studies, and Labour History Review. Editorial consultant, Journal of Educational Administration and History, 1992—; senior editor, Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, 1998—.

SIDELIGHTS:

Keith Laybourn is a professor of history who specializes in British Labour politics and economics from 1800 to the present. In The Rise of Socialism in Britain, c. 1881-1951, Laybourn traces the formation of the socialist and workers-rights parties that developed in the late nineteenth century, many of which declined in popularity after World War II after failing to attract the support of the trade unions. In the groups' efforts to gain wide membership, they found themselves catering to moderate and conservative elements of the political class, which ensured they never mustered the clout they needed to gain a foothold in the British government. Groups such as the Social Democratic Federation, the Independent Labour Party, and the Communist Party never succeeded in influencing the Labour Party to the extent they desired. The Labour Party itself abandoned socialist principals and became a conduit for spreading capitalism throughout the country. Laybourn's analysis "is a judicious yet sympathetic survey" that "is a welcome addition to the extensive literature on British socialism and labor politics," wrote Clarence B. Davis in History: Review of New Books.

Laybourn and coauthor Dylan Murphy focus more intently on communism in Under the Red Flag: A History of Communism in Britain. Unlike in other European nations, the Communist Party failed in Britain even though conditions for a workers' revolution were favorable. England had a large, exploited working-class population that could have easily gotten its hands on the means of production and an idle upper class that was largely indifferent to the needs of the impoverished workers. Laybourn and Murphy blame the Communist Party for its own failure, stating it squandered key opportunities to expand because of infighting and a dismissive attitude toward trade unions and democracy. Whereas V.I. Lenin wanted the British Communist Party to ally with the Labour Party, his death and Josef Stalin's rise prevented this from happening. Ultimately, the Party adopted a "class against class" policy, which pitted its members against the bourgeois-led Labour Party. United British opposition against Fascism in the late 1930s helped the party extend its limited influence, particularly when Hitler invaded Russia, but by the early 1990s, the Communist Party of Great Britain disbanded entirely after having been destroyed by factional bickering. According to Dennis L. Bird in the Contemporary Review, the "sorry story is dispassionately related by Professor Laybourn and Mr Murphy in their admirable book."

Laybourn's panoramic view of Labour politics is on display in A Century of Labour: A History of the Labour Party, 1900-2000, an endeavor that must have been "no easy task," according to Duncan Tanner in the English Historical Review. Laybourn relied on primary and secondary research to deliver information on lesser-known chapters in the party's history, including pre-1939 Yorkshire politics and the post-World War II Keep Left movement. As in his other works, he stresses the relationship between trade unions and the party. Its subject "is generally well presented," Tanner concluded.

Laybourn addresses a related topic in A History of British Trade Unionism, c. 1770-1990, which is "well-researched and well-argued, with a pacey, readable style and sound conclusions," according to Andrew Thorpe in History Today, who concluded that "to cram over 200 years of developments into 220 pages is a great feat." The book considers the histories of such labor unions as the National Transport Workers' Federation, the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, and the Bradford Graphical Society.

In The Evolution of British Social Policy and the Welfare State, c. 1800-1993, Laybourn considers such historical documents as the 1834 Poor Law Report and Rowntree's Poverty and provides a social history of how various welfare programs, including public health and education, evolved to meet the needs of the country's impoverished citizens. Reviewers noted that one of the book's strengths is its currency and its ability to present interpretations of social policy from a variety of political perspectives. However, according to John F.C. Harrison in Victorian Studies, "the real issue in the nineteenth century was not welfare but poverty. To write a history of welfare rather than poverty is surely to look through the wrong end of the telescope." Harrison concluded that Laybourn seems aware of this; he "is keen to cite the latest article as a caution against hasty acceptance of traditional interpretations."

Laybourn is the editor of several books that trace British politics in more general terms. Modern Britain since 1906: A Reader, and Modern Britain since 1979: A Reader (the latter edited with Christine F. Collette) include essays on feminism, race, the Communist Party, Margaret Thatcher, and Tony Blair. "The editors have done an excellent job of tying the information in the various chapters together, so students will come away from reading with an integrated picture of the political history of Britain in the last 25 years," wrote Fred von Hartesveldt in Teaching History: A Journal of Methods in regard to Modern Britain since 1979.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Albion, spring, 2004, Deborah Gorham, review of Unemployment and Employment Policies Concerning Women in Britain, 1900-1951, p. 180.

Booklist, November 15, 2001, review of British Political Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary, p. 594.

Choice, October, 1997, W.T. Walker, review of The Rise of Socialism in Britain, c. 1881-1951, p. 361; April, 2001, H. Steck, review of A Century of Labor: A History of the Labour Party, 1900-2000, p. 1523.

Contemporary Review, May, 2000, Dennis L. Bird, review of Under the Red Flag: A History of Communism in Britain, p. 273; October, 2000, review of Modern Britain since 1906: A Reader, p. 253.

English Historical Review, September, 1997, Paul Johnson, review of The Evolution of British Social Policy and the Welfare State, c. 1800-1993, p. 1029; November, 1998, Andrew Thorpe, review of The Rise of Socialism in Britain, c. 1881-1951, p. 1370; September, 2000, Duncan Tanner, review of A Century of Labour, p. 1033.

History: Review of New Books, spring, 1998, Clarence B. Davis, review of The Rise of Socialism in Britain, c. 1881-1951, p. 129.

History Today, May, 1993, Andrew Thorpe, review of A History of British Trade Unionism, c. 1770-1990, p. 59; December, 2000, Alastair J. Reid, review of A Century of Labour, p. 58.

Library Journal, September 15, 2001, Robert Moore, review of British Political Leaders, p. 68.

New Statesman, November 8, 1999, Francis Gilbert, review of Under the Red Flag, p. 58.

Spectator, May 6, 2000, John Vincent, review of A Century of Labor, p. 30.

Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, fall, 2005, Fred von Hartesveldt, review of Modern Britain since 1979: A Reader, p. 100.

Times Educational Supplement, June 15, 1990, Harold Perkin, review of Britain on the Breadline: A Social and Political History of Britain between the Wars, p. 647; June 21, 1991, Anne Smith, review of British Trade Unionism, 1770-1990: A Reader in History, p. 29; May 29, 1992, Richard Margrave, review of A History of British Trade Unionism, c. 1770-1990, p. 29.

Victorian Studies, spring, 1996, John F.C. Harrison, review of The Evolution of British Social Policy and the Welfare State, c. 1800-1993, p. 419.