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Synopsis

The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists is a novel by Robert Tressell first published in 1914 after his death in 1911. An explicitly political work, it is widely regarded as a classic of working-class literature. Clearly frustrated at the refusal of his contemporaries to recognise the inequity and iniquity of society, Tressell's cast of hypocritical Christians, exploitative capitalists and corrupt councillors provide a backdrop for his main target — the workers who think that a better life is "not for the likes of them".

Robert Tressell (17 April 1870 – 3 February 1911) was the pen name of Robert Croker, latterly Robert Noonan, an Irish writer best known for his novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Noonan had, in the words of his daughter, Kathleen, "a very good education" and could speak a variety of languages. However, when he was sixteen, he showed signs of a radical political consciousness, and left his family, declaring he "would not live on the family income derived largely from absentee landlordism". It was around this time he changed his surname from Croker to his mother's maiden name.

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