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Record 2482

Reading Experience:

'Shakespeare provided a political script for J.R. Clynes, the son of an Irish farm labourer, who rose from the textile mills of Oldham to become deputy leader of the House of Commons. In his youth he drew inspiration from the "strange truth" he found in Twelfth Night: "Be not afraid of greatness". ("What a creed! How it would upset the world if men lived up to it, I thought") Urged on by a Cooperative Society librarian, he worked through the plays and discovered they were about people who "had died for their beliefs. Wat Tyler and Jack Cade seemed heroes". Reading Julius Caesar, "the realisation came suddenly to me that it was a mighty political drama" about class struggle, "not just an entertainment"... Elected to Parliament in 1906, he read A Midsummer Night's Dream while awaiting the returns'.
Century: 1850-1899
Date: unknown
Country: England
Time: n/a
Place: city: Oldham
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:John Robert Clynes
Age Child (0-17)
Gender Male
Date of Birth 27 Mar 1869
Socio-economic group: Labourer (non-agricultural)
Occupation: son of millworker, became leader of House of Commons
Religion: n/a
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: England
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: William Shakespeare
Title: Julius Caesar
Genre: Drama
Form of Text: Print: Book
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: unknown


Source Information:

Record ID: 2482  
Source - Print  
  Author: Jonathan Rose
  Editor: n/a
  Title: The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes
  Place of Publication: New Haven
  Date of Publication: 2001
  Vol: n/a
  Page: 123
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: Jonathan Rose, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (New Haven, 2001), p. 123,, accessed: 27 January 2023

Additional comments:

See J.R. Clynes, 'Memoirs' (1937)



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)