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Purinton 1

Zachary W. Purinton
20th Century European History
October 31st, 2000

Britain in the Thirties

The book, The Road to Wigan Pier, by George Orwell depicts the life of miners in 1930s
Britain. The 1930s in Britain were rough unless you were part of the upper class. The
miners and others of that stature were suppressed, by taxes, by other classes, by just
about anyone and anything you can possibly think of. It has a very socialistic point of
view. Along with Orwell, there were a good number of men in Britain with the same view.
The man that published the book, Victor Gollancz, was a socialist as well.

Victor Gollancz, born into a Jewish household with a Polish ancestry. Was educated in
Britain at Oxford. He left Oxford without a degree and began to develop views of the
world with a very Christian moral stance. His first job was at Benn Brothers publishing
firm. After learning the ways of the trade, he set off and started Victor Gollancz Ltd.
He began to publish socialist books.


Purinton 2
Gollancz started to climb the ladder of socialist leaders in Britain.
The culmination of his socialist status came in 1936 when he, Laski, and Strachey started
the Left Book Club. The purpose of the Left Book Club was to spread the word of socialism
and anti-fascism. A number of books were published under the production of the Left Book
Club. The most famous and monumental was The Road to Wigan Pier. It was an announcement;
a signal to all of those that read the book what was wrong with the world and how
socialism could make it all right.

First off, we have to define socialism and then work from there. Webster defines
socialism as, “a social system in which the means of producing and distributing
goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community. The
building of the material base for communism under the dictatorship of the proletariat in
Marxist-Leninist theory.” Taking that definition and Orwell’s novel, the
reason for the socialistic movement becomes justified. Orwell’s description of the
miner’s life is one of a poor hardworking soul that never got a lot


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