The Last English Revolutionary: Tom Wintringham, 1898-1949 by Hugh Purcell - review by Adam Sisman

Adam Sisman

The English Che Guevara

The Last English Revolutionary: Tom Wintringham, 1898-1949


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TOM WINTRINGHAIMS all but forgotten. If he is remembered at all, it is as a minor poet of the inter-war period, represented by the odd entry in anthologies of 1920s and 1930s verse. Left out of the DNB, he was belatedly included in its recent 'Missing Persons' catch-up volume. Yet his was once a household name. In the early summer of 1940, as Britons nervously awaited invasion after the fall of France, Wintringham became, in Orwell's words. 'a notable voice in stemming the tide of defeatism'. Through his weekly articles in Picture Post and the Daily Mirror, his BBC talks, his columns in Tribune and the New Statesman, and in several best-selling books, he spoke to the nation. He coined the term 'the people's war'. Like J B Priestley, like Churchill himself, Wintringham captured the mood of the moment.

His appeal was that of a modern man who had seen action and knew about warfare. Arguing that a free and democratic army could be, 'man for man and unit for unit, more efficient in actual battle than the drilled war machines of Fascism', he seemed to offer an exciting

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