Margot Heinemann papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Personal, business and family correspondence c 1930s-1991 Literary, political and historical notes 1935 – 1990s Conference papers 1976-1991; papers relating to publications 1945-1992 Papers relating to 20th century social, political and cultural background c 1935-1991 Collected 20th century writing c 1957-1991 Papers relating to communism and communists 1932-1991 Papers relating to Bertolt Brecht and his work 1965-1988 Collected writings on Shakespeare 1967-1992 Collected writings on 16th and 17h century history and literature 1971-1992 Unpublished work and related papers c 1979-1985 Papers relating to television and theatre productions 1976-1987 Collected writings about the Spanish Civil War 1966-1991 Writing on herself and family 1977-1982 Sundry items and artefacts c 1961-1992

Administrative / Biographical History

Margot Claire Heinemann (1913–1992), writer and teacher, was born on 18 November 1913 at 89 Priory Road, Hampstead, London, the second daughter of Meyer Max Heinemann, a merchant banker, and Selma Schott, a Jewish couple recently immigrated from Frankfurt. She was educated at South Hampstead high school, King Alfred School, and Roedean, where in 1931 she won a major scholarship to read English at Newnham College, Cambridge.

As an undergraduate at the time of the depression and Hitler's rise to power, Heinemann first became interested in politics and, in 1934, the Communist Party. In its ranks she met and in 1935 started a relationship with Rupert John Cornford (1915–1936, represented in this collection), student leader and poet, who left for Spain in July 1936 to fight for the republican side in the Civil War there. Cornford returned safely on this occasion, but only to recruit more volunteers for the republican cause, with whom he set out again in October 1936, this time to join the newly formed International Brigades; he was killed in action shortly afterwards. Heinemann's first employment was as a teacher for factory girls in a day continuation school at Bourneville. She left in 1937 to join the staff of the Labour Research Department in London, where for the next twelve years she inquired into wage structures in the various industries, wartime production, and British trade policy. She also lectured to trade unionists, coalminers in particular. Among the journalistic work undertaken during this time and mostly published in Labour Research and Labour Monthly, sometimes under the pen-name Margaret Hudson, the frequent articles and books on the conditions in the coalmining industry stand out. In Britain's Coal (1944), a Left Book Club choice prompted by the fuel shortage of the war years, she argued the case for pit nationalization, and in Coal must Come First (1948) she reviewed the progress made since the passing of the industry into public ownership. Throughout the 1940s Heinemann contributed to the communist press, and towards the end of that decade moved closer to the centre of communist politics by working full-time for the party, among other things as a researcher and speech-writer for its general secretary Harry Pollitt. She served on the editorial board of the party's intellectual journal the Modern Quarterly (1945–53), and edited the weekly World News and Views from 1949 to 1951, and its literary supplement Daylight (1952–3), which promoted working-class writing. She also stood as the Communist candidate for the Lambeth and Vauxhall division in the general election of 1950 but polled barely 500 votes, or 1.3 per cent of the votes cast. In 1949, she began a relationship with John Desmond Bernal (1901–1971), scientist and noted worker for the World Peace Council and the World Federation of Scientific Workers; the couple had one daughter, Jane, born in 1953. Heinemann returned to teaching in 1959 and to academic life in 1965, when she became a lecturer in English at Goldsmiths' College, London. Her two main areas of research now were the 1930s and Renaissance drama, both periods marked for her by their fascinating relation between literature and politics. She collaborated with Noreen Branson, a friend since her Labour Research Department days, on Britain in the Nineteen Thirties (1971), and co-edited Culture and Crisis in Britain in the Thirties (1979), a major reappraisal of the left-wing cultural endeavours of the decade.

Wider academic recognition came Heinemann's belated appointment as fellow of New Hall, Cambridge, in 1976 and the publication of her celebrated study Puritanism and Theatre (1980). Heinemann died of bronchitis on 9 June 1992 in The Pines, a nursing home in Putney. Source: Oxford DNB

Arrangement

Reflects creator;s own arrangement as well as subsequent attempts to arrange collection owing to indiscernible pattern

Conditions Governing Access

Some personal/family material closed

Other Finding Aids

Printed catalogue in Goldsmiths' Special Collections Reading Room

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Good, some correspondence fragile

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to be sought from Goldsmiths' Special Collections

Appraisal Information

N/A

Accruals

None expected

Related Material

The National Archives: Metropolitan Police Office, Ref. MEPO 38/67, 1938-1989; also mentioned in Security Service papers on Eric Hobsbawm, Refs. KV2/3980-3987, 1942-1963

Labour History Archive and Study Centre (People's History Museum/University of Central Lancashire): Archive of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Refs. CP/IND/HANN/10/01, CP/IND/KETT/03/18, CP/IND/KETT/04/09, CP/IND/POLL/4/2, CP/IND/POLL/12/1, CP/IND/POLL/3/11-12, 1939-1999

Northumberland Archives: Records of the Northumberland Branch of the NUM, Ref. NRO/3793/349

Location of Originals

Material is original