The father of Marxism spent roughly half his life in the English capital. Simon Webb’s new book takes a fresh look at where and how he lived, who he knew and the effect the Victorian city had on himself and his family. 

The song ‘Joe Hill’, as sung by Joan Baez, Paul Robeson and many more, has become a rallying-call for left-wingers all over the world. Simon Webb’s new book takes a look at the man who inspired the song, an American union activist and ‘true-blue rebel’ who was killed by a firing-squad in Utah in 1915. 

Born in Ukraine in 1879, Lev Davidovich Bronstein (known as Leon Trotsky) became one of the most significant figures in the crowded history of the twentieth century. Simon Webb’s biography, written after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, places particular emphasis on Trotsky as a Ukrainian, and sets his life against the background of Ukrainian, Russian and British history and culture, and the story of Russian colonialism.

Born in Sunderland and brought up near Bishop Auckland in County Durham, ‘free-born’ John Lilburne became a leader of the Leveller movement, and one of the dominant personalities of the turbulent seventeenth century in England. Simon Webb’s biography offers an accessible introduction to this fascinating figure, whose fearless support of the rights of ordinary people made him a thorn in the side of both royalist and republican governments. A Durham Quaker himself, the author is uniquely placed both to examine how Lilburne’s northern roots influenced his career as a political agitator, and how this uniquely restless soul came to embrace Quakerism in his last days.

Vera Zasulich, would-be assassin who later worked with Lenin. Alexandra Kollontai, the only woman in Russia’s cabinet after the revolution of 1917. Louise Bryant, American reporter and ‘Queen of Bohemia’ who was there on the spot and covered the Russian revolution and its aftermath.