'I have been so often told that I lack ambition, and that I have wasted my time, that I feel constrained to explain why I am here, and doing what I am doing, instead of being somewhere else and doing something different.’
Today in 1865 (that’s 151 years ago) one James Leatham was born in Aberdeen. He lived a goodly 80 years and died on 14th December 1945. Apprenticed to a printer aged 13 ½ he spent the rest of his life writing, printing, editing and publishing – and all on his own terms.
Leatham was a remarkable man who left a remarkable written legacy, not least 33 volumes of The Gateway Magazine, which spans the years 1912-1945 and offers his own unique perspective on the world.
A year ago today The Deveron Press (first established by Leatham on is arrival in Turriff in 1916) was re-launched. The launch event was held in the very room where Leatham served as Provost (the first Socialist Provost in the ‘Little Red Town’) from 1933 until his death. The ‘red’ relates to the colour of the sandstone buildings of Turra which are quite unusual amidst the granite of Aberdeenshire.
In the past year The Deveron Press has been doing its level best to get Leatham recognised. Not content with reviving the Gateway as a free monthly online magazine, offering political and cultural commentary past and present, and championing the wider access of public domain writing, we have also published The Centenary Collection.
New editions of books written by Leatham
1: Socialism and Character (1897)
2: William Morris: Master of Many Crafts (1897)
3: Daavit (1912)
4: Fisherfolk of the North East (1932)
5: Shows and Showfolk (1936)
First book publications of Leatham’s writing
6: Shakespeare Studies (serialised in the 1890s)
7: 60 Years of World-Mending (serialised in the 1940s)
New editions of works published by Leatham
8: Sketches of Life Amang My Ain Folk – William Alexander (1875)
9: William Morris and the early days of the Socialist Movement – J.Bruce Glasier (1920)
New edition of Leatham Biography
10. James Leatham, Profile of a Socialist Pioneer – Robert Duncan (1976)
The Cultural Omnibus includes the following:
Was Darwin Right.
The Place of the Novel.
John Galt, The First of the Kailyarders.
Education and the Enjoyment of Life.
What is the good of education?
Autumn on Deveronside.
The Dual Purpose of the Dickens Novels.
An Eight Hours Day.
Socialization: Does It Come Before or After the Living Wage?
The Factors of Civilization.
" Back on to our Socialism."
If I Were Dictator.
The Bleeding of Britain.
The Settling of Britain.
The Liberties Bought with a Price.
Principles and Palliatives.
The Capitalist Press.
The Class War.
Is the State the Enemy of the People?
Most of these articles have been held in the public domain prison of 70 year copyright. The Deveron Press’s goal is to make such work as widely available as possible – if you’ve never read any Leatham how can you know of his significance in the cultural and political history of Scotland?
Leatham explained why he wrote:
‘All the organs of public opinion – press, Parliament, radio, pulpit, are in the hands of careerists who support the established order.’
‘It is because the newspapers do not give the material facts of social progress, and still less emphasise their significance, that I have for years maintained a propagandist press, with no advertisers, directors or shareholders to please. It is correct to say that I maintain the press; it does not maintain me. Unless a propagandist enterprise had a party organisation behind it, it never pays. Sometimes not even then.’
A century on, we don’t think much has changed (apart from the general understanding of the word ‘propaganda’) and we hope that by reading his work, many more people will free themselves from the shackles of the ‘careerists who support the established order’ and, by discovering ‘hidden’ and ‘alternative’ perspectives on the social and cultural history of our nation, be inspired to work towards changing our future.
We leave you with another couple of quotes from Leatham, hoping they will encourage you to explore his work for yourself:
‘If you want to escape being badly governed, from your point of view, you must take a hand in the business yourself.’
‘Capitalism must expand or explode. War is one of the periodic inevitable explosions. If the world were twice the size it would not be big enough for the investor.’
So, come on, help us celebrate a first anniversary and a centenary of FREE SPEECH.
Here's the download links
The Deveron Press.