Ray Challinor - revolutionary historian
One of my most inspiring experiences as a historian came when I had the honour and privilege of spending a day in the company of Ray Challinor a few years ago - and so it was particularly dispiriting to hear the sad news that he passed away yesterday. Ray was a member of the Socialist Review group (forerunner to the International Socialists/SWP) and was a truly outstanding and in many ways ingenious Marxist historian of the British working class movement, particularly in the North East of England. All of his many writings deserve reading and thinking about - one of my favourite short pieces by him The Red Mole of History on revolutions should give people a taste of his style and is particularly relevant given current events across the Arab world. Ray had his idiosyncracies and eccentricities, but as he himself wrote about the 'parliamentarian, poet and lion-tamer' John S. Clarke, 'in his writings he understood the need to maintain the reader's interest in order to get over his message. Whatever he was doing, he always strived to amuse and entertain as he instructed...to him, socialism must have a human face - or it was nothing'. The same was as true of Ray as it was of John S. Clarke, and such humanism together with the clear understanding of class politics that pervade all Challinor's writings on revolutionary history meant that his works will stand the test of time, above all his work on the Socialist Labour Party, 'The Origins of British Bolshevism', while all those who were amused, entertained and instructed by him over the years will stand forever in his debt. I'll add tributes/obits etc here are they appear. RIP Ray.
Raymond Challinor Internet Archive
Appreciation by John Charlton