Latest Issue

Revolution in the head: how Eric Hobsbawm became a communist national treasure

He ended his life a British national treasure but Eric Hobsbawm never lost faith in his youthful communism

By John Bew   March 2019


As a bookish grammar school boy in north-west London in the mid-1930s, described by his cousin as “ugly as sin but a mind,” Eric Hobsbawm fantasised in his diary about bringing about a communist revolution in Britain. Based on his reading of Russian and Irish history, he thought the best chance would be for dedicated revolutionaries to orchestrate a coup, preferably following a general strike. There was a reasonable prospect, he calculated, that part…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect