RIP Colin Ward (1924-2010)
- News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
Friday, 12 February 2010
The anarchist writer Colin Ward, who died on the night of 11th February,
was indirectly responsible for the existence of Five Leaves. We’d met
years before, and like several people I later met, I’d been vaguely
collecting Colin’s Anarchy (first series), still the best anarchist
magazine produced in this country. A small group of us in Nottingham,
publishing as Old Hammond Press, brought out a couple of pamphlets by
Colin, one on housing, one on William Morris’s ideas of work. But in
1994 I got so fed up waiting for Faber to bring out the paperback of The
Allotment: its landscape and culture that I offered to buy the rights.
Colin said that as long as his co-writer, David Crouch, was in agreement
he’d be pleased if Faber were to hand them over, and if it helped, the
co-authors would do without royalties as they were simply pleased to
have the book available in paperback.
Well, thousands of copies later Colin never regretted his generosity,
and as well being the first book published by Five Leaves (though
initially, for the sake of any bibliographers reading, Mushroom
Bookshop), for years The Allotment kept the press afloat. We went on to
publish Colin’s Arcadia for All (co-written with Dennis Hardy), Talking
Anarchy (with David Goodway) and Cotters and Squatters. Colin also wrote
the introduction to our edition of The London Years by Rudolf Rocker,
who of course he knew. Rocker in turn knew Peter Kropotkin, whose Mutual
Aid had such an influence on Colin as a political thinker. I’d hoped
that we’d manage to fit in an edition of Colin’s Goodnight Campers! (on
the social history of the holiday camp) while he was still with us, and
his wonderful book on Chartres that was only ever published for Folio
Society members. They will appear.
Five Leaves was not his only publisher by any means. Freedom Press
brought out - and kept in print - his classic Anarchy in Action and
other books on housing, social policy and - in advance of his time - a
book on ecological transport. Housing, environment, transport,
architecture, unofficial uses of the landscape, the education of
children - Colin’s subjects were always full of positive examples of the
way some people live now, and the way we could all live later. He had no
time for what he called tittle-tattle. Colin developed a kind of Wardite
politics and a close and loyal following ranging from George Mombiot to
young libertarians who saw that there was more to life than permanent
There will be many full obituaries, in the broadsheet, the anarchist and
the housing press in particular. There are so many things that could be
mentioned here, but I’ll simply say that every conversation with Colin
was rewarding, educational and fun. He was the most generous of people,
strengthened by his many years with Harriet, an activist and writer in
her own right. We have been proud to have worked with Colin over many
years and will miss him.
Ken Worpole - another Five Leaves writer (who, like Colin, has been
published by several other publishers) - will be fronting communications
about any events and memorials. Let us know if you would like to be kept
informed. Harriet will be putting details of Colin’s funeral in the
Guardian. Our condolences to Harriet and the family.
New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
in charge on this island?
Professor: Why, no one.
Skipper: No one?
Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
-- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"