Freedom Press (UK)

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The Freedom Press is an anarchist publishing house in Whitechapel, London, United Kingdom.[1] Founded in 1886, it is the largest anarchist publishing house in the nation and the oldest of its kind in the English speaking world. It is based at 84b Whitechapel High Street in the East End of London. Alongside its many books and pamphlets, the group also publish a fortnightly newspaper, Freedom, which is the only regular national anarchist newspaper in the UK. Other titles published by Freedom Press have included Freedom Bulletin, Spain and the World, Revolt! and War Commentary.[2]

The Press was founded in 1886 by a group of friends, including Charlotte Wilson and Peter Kropotkin, who were already publishing Freedom newspaper, and has operated, with short breaks, ever since. Much of the bookshop's recent history was tied up with Vernon Richards, who was the driving force behind both it and Freedom Newspaper from the 1930s until late in the 90s.

When Richards and three other editors were arrested at the beginning of 1945 for attempting "to undermine the affections of members of His Majesty's Forces.",[3] Benjamin Britten, E. M. Forster, Augustus John, George Orwell, Herbert Read (chairman), Osbert Sitwell and George Woodcock[4] set up the Freedom Defence Committee to "uphold the essential liberty of individuals and organizations, and to defend those who are persecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of speech, writing and action."[5]

The bookshop was attacked by neo-fascist group Combat 18 in March 1993, and eventually firebombed. The building still bears some visible damage from the attacks, and metal guards have been installed on the ground floor windows and doors, intended to ward against any further violence.

Today Freedom Press remains as a functioning publishing house whilst the printing itself is done by Aldgate Press. (A printing co-op set up in 1981 with money raised by Vernon Richards). The Freedom Press collective runs an autonomy club, archive, bookshop and newspaper, while sharing the premises with The London Coalition Against Poverty, the Advisory Service for Squatters and Corporate Watch. The library of the Freedom Press is held at Bishopsgate Library.

Freedom Press have published titles by Clifford Harper, Dennis Gould, Nicolas Walter, Colin Ward, Murray Bookchin, Gaston Leval, William Blake and many others, including 43 issues of the journal The Raven. Its most influential publications have been those by Herbert Read.

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