Historians of the world unite! Eric Hobsbawm and the Communist Party Historians Group, 1946-1956


  • Emile Chabal Reader em História na University of Edinburgh (Escócia)




Eric Hobsbawm, Marxist history, Communism


How do historians become historians? Some might say that all it takes is dedication to the profession and a talent for reading archival sources. But the reality of the profession is rather more complex. Eric Hobsbawm - one of the most famous historians of the twentieth-century - is a perfect example of this. His journey from a bright doctoral student to a global household name was not inevitable; instead, it involved a complex web of friendships and contacts that enabled him to speak knowledgeably to (and about) a huge range of audiences. In this article, I explore one of the most important aspects of his historical apprenticeship: his membership of the Communist Party Historians Group. This became one of the pre-eminent forums for the development of Hobsbawm’s ideas in the 1940s and 50s - and, through the richness of its discussions, left a lasting impression on Marxist historiography.



Biografia do Autor

Emile Chabal, Reader em História na University of Edinburgh (Escócia)

Doutor em História pela University of Cambridge (Inglaterra). Reader em História na University of Edinburgh (Escócia). Especialista em História Política e Intelectual Europeia do século XX, especialmente na França. Com várias publicações no campo, como o livro A Divided Republic: nation, state and citizenship in contemporary France (Cambridge, 2015). Atualmente, desenvolve uma biografia intelectual em recorte global do historiador marxista Eric Hobsbawm. E-mail: emile.chabal@ed.ac.uk . Website: http://www.homepages.ed.ac.uk/echabal/


Anônimo [Eric Hobsbawm & Raymond Williams], “War in URSS?” (Londres: University Labor Federation, 1940), Biblioteca Memorial Marx YA08/WAR.

ABRAMSKY, Sasha. The House of Twenty Thousand Books. Londres: Halban, 2014.

BARROW, Logie. “Letter”. Labour History Review, v. 18, n. 3, 293-295, 2015.

CHABAL, Emile. “The voice of Hobsbawm”. In: Aeon (8 October 2018), https://aeon.co/essays/how-eric-hobsbawm-helped-shape-theglobal-marxist-imagination.

CORNFORTH, Maurice (ed.). Rebels and Their Causes: Essays in Honour of A. L. Morton. Londres: Lawrence & Wishart, 1978.

CROFT, Andy (ed.). A weapon in the struggle: the cultural history of the Communist Party in Britain. Londres: Pluto Press, 1998.

DOBB, Maurice. Studies in the Development of Capitalism. Londres: George Routledge and Sons, 1946.

EVANS, Richard. Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History. London: Little; Brown, 2019.

HIMMELFARB, Gertrude. “The Historian as Marxist: The Group”. In: HIMMELFARB, Gertrude. The New History and the Old: Critical Essays and Reappraisals. Londres: Harvard University Press, 2004.

HOBSBAWM. “The Historians’ Group”, p. 22. 8 BRANSON, Noreen. History of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1927-1941. Londres: Lawrence and Wishart, 1985.

HOBSBAWM, Eric. “The Historians’ Group of the Communist Party”. In: CORNFORTH, Maurice (ed.). Rebels and Their Causes: Essays in Honour of A. L. Morton. Londres: Lawrence & Wishart, 1978.

HOBSBAWM, Eric (ed.). Labour’s Turning Point, 1880-1900. Extracts from contemporary sources. Londres: Lawrence & Wishart, 1948.

HOWE, Antony. ‘‘Our only ornament: Tom Mann and British Communist hagiography”. Twentieth Century Communism. v. 1, n. 1, p. 91-109, 2009.

HOWE, Antony. “Dona Torr”. In: GILDART, Keith; HOWELL, David (eds.). Dictionary of Labour Biography, Volume XII. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

HOWE, Antony. “The past is ours: the political usage of English history by the British Communist Party, and the role of Dona Torr in the creation of its Historians Group, 1930- 56”. (PhD diss., University of Sydney, 2003).

KAYE, Harvey. The British Marxist Historians: an introductory analysis. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1984.

MORTON, A. L. A História do Povo Inglês. Tradução de José Laurênio de Melo. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Civilização Brasileira, 1970.

PARKER, David. Ideology, absolutism and the English Revolution: debates of the british communist historians, 1940-1956. Londres: Lawrence and Wishart, 2008.

SAMUEL, Raphael. “The British Marxist Historians, 1880-1980”. New Left Review, n. 120, p. 21-96, Mar-Apr 1980.

SAVILLE, John. “Introduction”. In: SAVILLE, John (ed.). Democracy and the Labour Movement: essays in honour of Dona Torr. Londres: Lawrence & Wishart, 1954.

SCHWARZ, Bill. ‘‘The people’ in history: the Communist Party Historians’ Group, 1946-56”. In: JOHNSON, Richard et al. (eds.). Making Histories: Studies in history-writing and politics. Abingdon: Routledge, 2007 [1982].

SHENK, Timothy. Maurice Dobb: political economist. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

SWEEZY, Paul M.; DOBB, Maurice. “The Transition from Feudalism to

Capitalism”. Science & Society, v. 14, n. 2, p. 134-67, 1950.

THORPE, Andrew. “The Membership of the Communist Party of Great Britain, 1920-1945”. The Historical Journal, v. 43, n. 3, p. 777-800, 2000.

WILLIAMS, Raymond. Politics and Letters: Interviews with New Left Review. Londres: New Left Books, 1979.