Thanks to an excellent second hand book dealer, Mark Sutcliffe of Ilkley, I’ve just acquired a copy of an obscure Golden Age detective novel, Big Business Murder, by the husband and wife team of G.D.H. and Margaret Cole.
It will be interesting to see what the book is like, and whether it reflects, in an entertaining and instructive way, the Coles’ political leanings. Few Golden Age books show much meaningful engagement with the political issues of the period, and the Coles’ many books were – as a rule – no exception to this. But unlike many of their contemporaries, the couple were prominent socialists, and G.D.H, a leading figure in the Fabian Society, was a prolific writer of political books.
His early work included Some Essentials of Socialist Propaganda (1932) and What is Socialism? (1933). He compiled A History of Socialist Thought (1953-60) and managed to spin it out to five volumes, no less. I detect a note of weariness creeping in over the years, though. In 1919, he wrote Workers’ Control in Industry, but 35 years later, he penned What is Wrong with Trade Unions?
I’m not sure what, if they were alive today, the Coles would have made of the current travails of our politicians. Perhaps, again, they would have been driven to crime.