One of the nation's favourite books, as never before!

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Press Release

Immediate Release: 16 June 2003

One of the nation’s favourite books, as never before!

TUC Library Collections is launching the second major phase of its unionhistory.info website today (Monday) - the full original manuscript of the novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell.

Voted one of the nation’s 100 best-loved books in the BBC’s recent 'Big Read' event, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is an influential classic of working class literature. Written in the early years of the last century but not published in full until 1955, it has now been translated into six languages and sold millions of copies worldwide.

This unique resource, numbering 1700 fragile pages, has previously only been accessible to researchers who had to make the trip to London. Now, thanks to a grant from the New Opportunities Fund, readers around the world can access the manuscript online and read the book as the author intended, both with and without the publishers’ amendments.

Accompanying the online manuscript will be photographs, documents and other ephemera from the Tressell family archive.

Christine Coates, Librarian of the TUC Collections, said: 'This is a book which changes lives and has had a profound effect on tens of thousands of workers since it was first published in 1914. I never fail to be surprised at the power of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, the story of a group of painters in a small town on the south coast of England at the beginning of the 20th century, to evoke immediate sympathy and support from readers around the world. Tressell enthusiasts will no longer need to make the pilgrimage to London to see the original manuscript. It is now available to a wider audience than ever before - at the click of a button!'

Notes to Editors:

About unionhistory.info - The Union Makes Us Strong:

The websitepresents a history of the British trade union movement since the development of organised labour in the early nineteenth century. Themed learning packages guide the user through nearly 200 years of social history illustrated with digitised photographs, posters and documents from the TUC Library Collections.

Two more themed packages will also be added in September 2003 - a selection of material from the Library’s archive of the General Strike of 1926 as well as every TUC Congress Report from 1868-1968.

The Union Makes Us Strong: TUC History Online can be viewed at http://www.unionhistory.info

The TUC Library Collections, based at London Metropolitan University, were first established in 1922. They constitute a major research library in the social sciences, with reference and historical works on the trade union movement, union publications, documents relating to working conditions and industrial relations in various industries, and material collected from the campaigns in which the TUC has been involved since its foundation in 1868. A major strength of the Library is the large collection of pamphlets and other ephemera, which have survived here as in few other libraries.

Contact details:

· For information about the project and the TUC Library, contact: Alex Bromley, Project Manager, Tel: 0207 133 4065, a.bromley@londonmet.ac.uk

· For information about Robert Tressell and The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists contact Dave Harker, author of forthcoming book, Tressell: the real story of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists: dave_harker@btclick.com

This initiative has been funded with the support of a £175,000 grant from the New Opportunities Fund, a National Lottery good cause distributor, through the Fund’s nof-digitise programme. The programme helps to put information that supports learning into digitised form. Details on www.nof-digitise.org

The New Opportunities Fund distributes National Lottery money to health, education and environment projects across the UK with a particular focus on disadvantage and improving quality of life. For information on lottery funding opportunities across the UK contact: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk Telephone: 0845 275 0000 Textphone: 0845 275 0022

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