Labour History

John Dwyer’s London Stories

Labour History (2015), 109, (1), 25–40.


This manuscript provides an analysis of working-class radical John Dwyer’s life and work in London, and the acquisition of beliefs and habits of behaviour in the East End of the imperial capital that shaped Dwyer’s subsequent Australian experience. The documents that Dwyer preserved of his London life after arriving in Sydney in 1888 reflected a strong impulse to maintain a good character dedicated to fulfilling his duties, and thereby accumulating status and material reward, despite the disadvantages raised against a working-class child of mixed Irish and English parentage born in Whitechapel. It was in reaction to these conditions, and a history of dispossession that marked his Irish forebears, that triggered Dwyer’s radicalism and established a tension between instincts of duty and rebellion.

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Author details

Hearn, Mark