Arthur T. Collinson (b. 1893): Reading & Writing

Despite being very articulate and in control of a turn-of-phrase, Arthur T. Collinson does not mention reading or writing in his memoir. It is true that he did not use school for its intended purpose, but you could not say that he was uneducated. His work-based learning created a well-spoken, mindful socialist who was able to converse with and challenge those further up the ladder.

Some would argue that Collinson’s working-class upbringing is why there are no mentions of authors, poets, philosophers. I would not be one of these people. As the title of the memoir suggests, Collinson is writing about his experiences as one of the first real trade unionists. This may partly explain the absence of said writers.

It is a real shame though; at times Collinson puts me in mind of John Steinbeck. Indeed, One Way Only: An autobiography of an Old-time Trade Unionist is a valid supplement to The Grapes of Wrath.


‘Arthur T. Collinson’, in John Burnett, David Mayall and David Vincent eds The Autobiography of the Working Class: An Annotated, Critical Bibliography Brighton: Harvester, 1984, Vol.3, no. 30.


Arthur T. Collinson, ‘One Way Only: An autobiography of an Old-time Trade Unionist’ in Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiography, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection, 3:30

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