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Meet the writers of Radiant Illusion?
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About the writers of Radiant Illusion?, a book of essays based on archives, family papers and personal memoirs

With an introduction by Roderick Floud, the eight essays in this book, Radiant Illusion?, analyse in detail why young people were drawn to the Communist Party and what happened after they joined. Nicholas Deakin and Kevin Morgan write about the political context and why, after a long period as a defiantly proletarian party, the CPGB actively welcomed middle-class recruits. Geoff Andrews presents a detailed portrait of James Klugmann, a key player in Cambridge. And Jane Bernal, Phil Cohen, Norma Cohen, Hamish MacGibbon and Elizabeth Dolan, descendants of these 1930s recruits, present case studies of their parents and other relatives. Radiant Illusion? also includes summaries of the Gresham discussions, in which Peter Hennessy, Juliet Gardiner and Denis Healey participated.

The authors

Nicholas Deakin editor of Radiant Illusion?

Nicholas Deakin, editor of the book Radiant Illusion?, read Modern History at Oxford University and took a doctorate at the University of Sussex. He has worked as a civil servant and in local government. He has also chaired national and local voluntary bodies. From 1980 to 1998 he was Professor of Social Policy and Administration at the University of Birmingham and was subsequently a visiting professor at the University of Warwick and then at the London School of Economics. In 1995-6 he chaired the Independent Commission on the Future of the Voluntary Sector in England.  He was Vice-Chair of the Baring Foundation, and a member of the Foundation’s Independence Panel. He has published many books and articles on different aspects of social policy.

Geoff Andrews historian of British Communism

Geoff Andrews has written widely on the history of political ideas and movements. His books include Endgames and New times; the final years of British Communism 1964-1991 (2004), Not a normal country: Italy after Berlusconi (2005) and The slow food story: politics and pleasure (2008). His new book on the life of the communist intellectual James Klugmann, the shadow man: at the heart of the Cambridge spy circle, is published by I B Tauris in 2015. He is Senior Lecturer in Politics at The Open University.


Jane Bernal, daughter of margaret Heinemann and J D Bernal

Jane Bernal is currently researching a biography of her mother. Jane is a ‘red nappy baby’, daughter of Margot Heinemann and J D Bernal, the Marxist scientist. Until her retirement in 2013, Jane worked in the NHS as a Consultant Psychiatrist specialising in the care of people with intellectual disabilities. She was also Senior lecturer at St Georges, University of London She was a member of the COG until 1991, and was active in Marxists in Medicine and in the Medical Practitioners Union (then part of ASTMS). She is married with one son.


Norma Cohen formerly freelance arts/education journalist

Norma Cohen. Born in post-war Liverpool, Norma Cohen moved to London with her family in 1961 when her father became chief accountant at the Morning Star. Both parents were longstanding Communist Party members. Her mother died in 1988 before the Berlin Wall fell; her father joined the Labour Party in his late 80s. Laban movement and dance trained, she moved from teaching into performing in theatre and television. As a freelance arts/education journalist, she wrote for City Limits and was Dance Editor of TES. Books include Theatre Works: a guide to working in the theatre (National Theatre/Theatre Museum) and Bouquet with flying lovers (Galley Cat Press). Co-founder of Sidewalk & Ship of Fools theatre companies, she currently works as a writer and actor (recently: Who Do We Think We Are? (Visible/ Southwark Playhouse). She has written in fact, fiction and drama about her Russian/Jewish/Communist/Liverpudlian heritage. She lives in Hackney, near her daughter Milly and grandson Sol. Photograph by Paul Robinson


Philip Cohen writer and journalist

Philip Cohen was born in Liverpool in 1949 and lived there until he was 12 when his family moved to London. He has been a journalist, writer and PR professional, and worked for the London 2012 Olympics. His parents Eve and Eric Cohen, as well as uncle Len Jones, were long-time CPGB members and as a child he was taken on demonstrations and marches against the bomb, the Vietnam War and apartheid. This early experience motivated him to put together a book, Children of the Revolution (Lawrence and Wishart, 1997). He is in the second year of studying for a PhD on nuclear weapons and propaganda 1957-63.


Elizabeth Dolan, daughter of middle class recruits to communism in Britain 1930s

Elizabeth Dolan. The eldest of three sisters, Elizabeth Dolan was born in Sheffield in 1945. Her parents belonged to the 1930s generation of undergraduate Communists. After a degree in French at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, she trained as a nursery and infant teacher, working with under-fives in maintained primary schools in London and Essex. She joined the National Union of Teachers as a student, was for several years a local branch secretary and remains active as a retired member. Married, with two children and six grandchildren, her professional involvement in early-years education has happily interacted with family life and her continuing interest in literature.


Roderick Floud, Provost of Gresham College 2008-2014

Roderick Floud was Provost of Gresham College from 2008-2014. An economic historian, he taught at London, Cambridge and Stanford Universities and was vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University, President of Universities UK and Vice-President of the European University Association. He is the editor of the major textbook on modern British economic history and author of books on the history of human heights and weights; he is currently writing an economic history of British gardening. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, of the Academy of the Social Sciences and of the Academia European and was knighted for services to higher education.



Hamish MacGibbon publisher and member of Labour party

Hamish MacGibbon was born in 1936 in the month when the Spanish Civil War started and his parents joined the Party. Educated at various progressive schools during World War Two, he went to Westminster School followed by National Service, a degree in history at Cambridge, and a start in publishing at Heinemann. After 25 years in that firm he founded his own publishing company which he ran for the next two decades. Like his parents, he took part in the first Aldermaston March and subsequent ones. A member of the Labour Party (just) for sixty years, he was a councillor for the Labour Camden Council in the late 1960s.


Kevin Morgan Professor of Politics and Contemporary History at Manchester University

Kevin Morgan is Professor of Politics and Contemporary History at the University of Manchester and an editor of the journal Twentieth Century Communism. He has published widely on communism and the British labour movement including studies of Harry Pollitt, Ramsay MacDonald and the Webbs. His latest book is Bolshevism, syndicalism and the general strike: The lost internationalist world of A. A. Purcell (2013). His next, to be published in 2015, will be a study of communism and the cult of the individual.

Buy Radiant Illusion? here

Radiant Illusion? Editor: Nicholas Deakin £10.00 RRP (£2 p and p)

ISBN: 978-0-9929723-2-5. Publication 20/10/2015

Publisher: Eve Editions (eveeditions.com)