George III described Sheffield as a 'damned bad place' at a time when the town was notorious for radical agitation. This book traces this radical tradition right up to the 1980s, when David Blunkett's Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire fought Mrs Thatcher. The book tells of dramatic events - the burning of the vicar's Broomhall residence, Samual Holberry's attempted Chartist uprising, the 'Sheffield outrages' of the 1860s, John Ruskin's Communist experiment in Totley, the Sheffield mass trespass and the raising of the red flag over the town hall in 1981.
There are colourful personalities, such as Joseph Gales, a brilliant newspaper editor who fled fo Maerica; Mary Anne Rawson, an impassioned anti-slavery campaigner; John Arthur Roebuck, a radical MP who brought down the government; Edward Carpenter, a socialist prophet and gay pioneer; Father Ommanney, whose ritualism outraged Protestants, J.T. Murphy, who fraternised with Lenin and Staline; and Ethel Haythornthwaite, who fough to save the countryside.
The book is valuable historically in describing the important part played in Britain's radical history by his great Northern city, with its dissenting middle classes, its independent-minded artisans, its championship of the weak against the strong and its unwillingness to be pushed around.