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British Library of Political and Economic Science

Postgate, Raymond William (1896-1971), socialist, historian and journalist


Reference code(s): GB 0097 POSTGATE

Held at: British Library of Political and Economic Science

Title: Postgate, Raymond William (1896-1971), socialist, historian and journalist

Date(s): 1830-2000

Level of description: collection

Extent: 50 boxes

Name of creator(s): Postgate | Raymond William | 1896-1971 | socialist historian and journalist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Raymond William Postgate was born in Cambridge, 6 November, 1896, the eldest son of Professor J P Postgate, a classical scholar. He was educated at Perse School Cambridge and Liverpool College and attended St John's College, Oxford. During World War One he sought exemption from military service as a conscientious objector but without the defence of a religious objection, was jailed for two weeks during 1916. In 1918, he married Daisy Lansbury, daughter of Labour politician George Lansbury. They later had two sons John and Oliver. Postgate formed socialist connections through the Lansbury family and also through his sister Margaret, who married the Socialist economist and historian G D H Cole. Postgate became a founding member of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1920, but broke from the party in 1922 to join the Labour Party. Postgate started his career in 1918 as a journalist and writer, working on the Daily Herald, and Lansbury's Weekly, where he covered the General Strike of 1926. He became department editor for Encyclopaedia Britannica from 1927-1928, was a European representative for Alfred A Knopf publishers from 1929-1949 and edited Tribune from 1940-1942. He used his socialist beliefs to write mystery novels within a social and economic context, and his crime novel Verdict of Twelve became a best-seller in 1940. Among Postgate's other works were three detective stories, a novel, short stories, many articles about labour and radical history and biographies including one of his father-in-law George Lansbury. From 1942 to 1949, Postgate worked at the Board of Trade and Ministry of Supply. In 1949, due to his life-long passion for good food and wine, Postgate decided to make an effort to raise standards by editing the reports of a band of volunteers on their visits to British hotels and restaurants. The highly influential Good Food Club was born as a result, of which he was president. He became editor of the Good Food Guide and wrote many articles and books as a food critic and wine writer. He was awarded the OBE in 1966. Raymond Postgate died on March 29, 1971.


Scope and content/abstract:

The papers of Raymond Postgate, 1830-2000, contain mainly administrative and personal correspondence which are catalogued as correspondence and subject files. Six further sections contain personal papers, Postgate's papers in relation to World War One, his writing research notes and drafts, his work with the Good Food Club and wine writing, and research papers relevant to a biography of his life. There is a large separate section for photographs, many of which are of the Postgate and Lansbury families. The collection also includes four individual sections of letters and papers belonging to George Lansbury, Daisy Postgate, Nellie Lansbury and Helen Hibberd.


Language/scripts of material: Mainly English, some French.

System of arrangement:

The collection has been arranged in sections as follows: 1. Correspondence Files; 2. Subject Files; 3. World War One; 4. Notes and Drafts; 5. Good Food Club Ltd Papers; 6. Wine Papers; 7. Personal Papers; 8. Biography; 9. George Lansbury Letters; 10. Daisy Postgate Papers; 11. Nellie Lansbury Papers; 12. Helen Hibberd Papers; 13. Photographs; 14. Oversize Material

Conditions governing access:

Mainly open; some items closed.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Most items can be photocopied, subject to handling and copyright restrictions. No material may be published without the prior permission of both the copyright holder and the Library. All applications for publication must be made to the Archivist in the first instance, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user.

Finding aids:

Online catalogue available.

Detailed catalogue



Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited by the family in 2004.



Archivist's note: Sources: Copied from LSE Archives CALM database by Anna Towlson.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Apr 2008

Alcoholic beverages | Beverages | Food | Agricultural products
Politics | Political science
World War One (1914-1918) | World wars (events) | Wars (events)

Personal names
Hibberd | Helen | fl 1920-1973 | grandaughter of George Lansbury
Lansbury | Nellie | 1896-1980 | daughter of George Lansbury
Postgate | Daisy | 1892-1971 | née Lansbury | wife of Raymond Postgate
Postgate | Raymond William | 1896-1971 | socialist historian and journalist Lansbury | George | 1859-1940 | Labour politician

Corporate names