Henry Mayers Hyndman

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Hyndman, Henry Mayers (1842–1921). Socialist. Born into riches—the West Indian fortune of his grandfather— Hyndman was converted to Marxism by reading Das Kapital on board an Atlantic steamer on a business trip. In 1881 he published a kind of précis of it under the title England for All, which he distributed to delegates at the first (Social) Democratic Federation conference in order to convert them to socialism. This irritated Marx, because Hyndman had not mentioned him by name. From 1884 he edited the leading British Marxist journal Justice. A committed anti-imperialist, he opposed the Boer war, but then supported the First World War, which estranged him from most of his fellow-socialists. He also apparently alienated working people by his extremism, and his habit of quoting from Virgil in Latin in his speeches to them. He is probably the only western Marxist leader ever to have played county cricket for Sussex; but that was before he saw the light.

Bernard Porter

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