Samuel, Raphael

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SAMUEL, RAPHAEL (1934–1996), British historian. Samuel was born in London. His father was a solicitor and his mother, Minna (Nerenstein, 1909–1999), was both a left-wing activist and a composer of note, who wrote under the name of Minna Keal. Samuel's interest in history was aroused by his uncle, the well-known historian of Jewish socialism chimen abramsky (1917– ), who was professor of Jewish studies at University College, London. Samuel was educated at Oxford, where he became a dedicated Communist, abandoning his party membership after Khrushchev's famous speech of 1956 detailing Stalin's crimes. Samuel was one of the founders of the Universities and Left Review, which, after 1960, became known as the New Left Review and was one of the main organs of Britain's intellectual "new left." His academic career was rather unorthodox: he spent almost all of his career as a tutor at Ruskin College, Oxford, a working-man's institution funded by the trade unions, although he was briefly a professor at the University of East London shortly before his death. Samuel originated the "history workshops," and, in 1976, was one of the founders of History Workshop Journal. His best-known works include Village Life and Labour (1975), an edited three-volume work, Patriotism (1989), and Theatres of Memory (1996). Samuel's theatrical style of lecturing made him a charismatic figure on the British left and added greatly to his important impact. His autobiographical essay, "The Lost World of British Communism" (New Left Review, 154 (1985) and 156 (1987)) sheds much light on the appeal of Communism to some British Jews.


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[William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]