About this Archive
The British New Left emerged as a result of Nikita Khrushchev's Secret Speech denouncing Joseph Stalin which led many to abandon the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and rethink their orthodox Marxism. Its emergence was also a response to the increasing frustration with the policies and activities of the Labour Party.
As part of the British New Left, a number of new journals emerged to carry commentary on matters of Marxist theory. One of these was The Reasoner, a magazine established by historians E. P. Thompson and John Saville in July 1956.
Another radical journal of the period was Universities and Left Review, edited by Oxford graduates Raphael Samuel, Stuart Hall, Gabriel Pearson, and Charles Taylor, a publication established in 1957 with less of a sense of allegiance to the British communist tradition. This publication was more youth oriented and pacifist in orientation, expressing opposition to the militaristic rhetoric of the Cold War, voicing strong opposition to the Suez War of 1956, and support for the emerging Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
New Left Review was established in January 1960 when The New Reasoner and Universities and Left Review merged their boards. The first editor-in-chief of the merged publication was Stuart Hall and Samuel was a leading member of the editorial collective. The early publication's style, featuring illustrations on the cover and in the interior layout, was more irreverent and free-flowing than later issues of the publication, which tended to be of a more somber, academic bent. Hall was succeeded as editor in 1962 by Perry Anderson.
In 1958, Samuel, along with Stuart Hall and Eric Hobsbawm, founded the Partisan Coffee House as a radical venue of the New Left, at 7 Carlisle Street in the Soho district of London. It was initially intended to raise funds for the ULR, and it was partly conceived as an alternative to the Italian-style coffee bars which had mushroomed in London in the 1950s. Along with a café, the venue hosted talks, poetry readings, film screenings and informal concerts in the basement, and a library and offices of the ULR were upstairs. It closed in 1962 due to financial problems.
Scope and Content
New Left Archive, comprising papers collected by Raphael Samuel and held in his office at Ruskin College relating to the New Left and his tenure as tutor at Ruskin College, Oxford, including:
• Papers concerning the New Left, including: Universities and Left Review correspondence, editorial minutes, press cuttings, publicity material from other left organisations, New Left Review correspondence, editorial minutes, press cuttings, publicity material from other left organisations, manuscripts, drafts and correspondence regarding articles and submissions to Universities and Left Review and New Left Review, 1947-1993.
• Minutes, correspondence, financial statements, promotional material, employment papers and plans regarding the establishment, running and activities of the Universities and Left Review Club (ULRC), "Partisan Coffee House", 1957-1961.
• Newsletters, publicity material, notes of meetings, documents and lists of student and other revolutionary movements, collected by Anna Davin, including material relating to the University of Warwick Socialist Society, Revolutionary Socialist Student Federation (RSSF), National Union of School Students (NUSS), Agitprop, the Black Panthers, the Anti-Vietnam War Campaign and others, 1957-1976.
• Papers collected by Raphael Samuel during his time working at the Institute of Community Studies, including: correspondence, completed questionnaires, report notes, interviewer instructions and others papers from the ICS Survey on Social and Political Attitudes in Stevenage and Clapham, and correspondence, completed interviews, drafts, diaries, and other papers from the Bethnal Green Youth Survey, 1957-1962.
• Papers gathered by Raphael Samuel during his tenure as tutor at Ruskin College, including: papers, documents, and other material regarding the history of Ruskin College; teaching correspondence with students and staff, student lists, reading lists, examination papers, tutorial reports, and notes for tutorials; copies of Oxford Historian; correspondence with Arielle Abersohn regarding "The Role of Students in the Paris Commune’" 1899-1993.
• Miscellaneous papers gathered by Raphael Samuel and kept in his office at Ruskin College, Oxford, including: Political Party election materials