Raphael Samuel: 1934–96
Raphael Samuel, who died of cancer in December—in the old weaver’s house in Elder Street he loved so much, behind Spitalfield Market in the heart of what was once Jewish and Radical London—was one of the most outstanding, original intellectuals of his generation: a lifelong socialist of deep and complex persuasion, a passionate, creative and innovative social historian, and a man of unique personal qualities and distinction of mind and spirit. Those of us who were privileged to be amongst the great number whom, as a mark of personal affection, to the end, he addressed as ‘comrade’, find his untimely death an irreparable loss. Neither the ‘first’ New Left, which was born in the wake of 1956 (the year of the Anglo-French invasion of Suez and the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian Revolution—the two paradigmatic events which between them defined the political parameters of a generation, and of which this journal is a principal legatee), nor the History Workshop movement of the 1970s (which transformed the writing of popular working-class history) would have existed without his vision and gift for strategic intervention.
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