Researcher, Lecturer, Podcaster
Christopher Caudwell: A Critical Biography
Born in 1907, Christopher Caudwell (real name Christopher St. John Sprigg) left school aged 15 to work as a professional journalist, editor and popular crime novelist until, in the first half of the 1930s, he became politicized, started reading Marxism, joined the Communist Party, went to fight in the Spanish Civil War, and was killed in the Battle of Jarama, a few months shy of his thirtieth birthday. Today he is remembered (when at all) for producing the first major English-language Marxist work of literary criticism, as well as for writing some very promising and suggestive essays of social and political criticism.
This research will lead to the first ever critical biography of Caudwell. I hope to be able to restore Caudwell to his rightful place - as a figure around whom many of the characteristics of the literary and cultural zeitgeist of the 1930s intersect. A comprehensive look at Caudwell’s life is essential, I argue, for a fuller understanding of British literature and politics of the 1930s. He may not have been a major literary figure along the lines of an Auden or an Orwell, but his writings remain important for an understanding of Marxist praxis in the thirties, and for conceptualizing what Marxist literary criticism might mean today.