2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Edward Palmer Thompson and Dorothy Thompson, and Their Socialist-Humanist Approach to the Study of British Social History

Liang-kai Chou

Department of History, National Chung-Hsing University

Edward P. and Dorothy Thompson, as distinguished British Marxist historians, majored in labor and social history from early eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. They were also active in social reforms and peace movements. This paper intends to examine their social thought and historical thinking. Marx's fundamental thought history: namely that “men make their own history,” moulded not only their philosophy of life but also their studies of history. Events in the Communist countries in 1956 stimulated E. P. Thomson to advocate so-called “socialist humanism.” The Thompsons attempted to study human society as a whole or as a complex interaction between economic and cultural factors of history. E. P. Thompson tried to revitalize Marx's thought and emphasized that some English romantics and socials were as important as any social reformers and committed historians in England. As a Leftist with an ideal in the future, he, with Dorothy, composed a variation of Marxism in a style full of English tongue and vitality.


Key Words: E. P. Thompson, Dorothy Thompson, Marxism, Socialist Humanism, Historiography, social history, Labour history