Penguin: The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Cover illustration for The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, which tells the story of a group of working men who are joined one day by Owen, a journeyman-prophet with a vision of a just society. Owen's spirited attacks on the greed and dishonesty of the capitalist system rouse his fellow men from their political quietism.

This illustration was commissioned by Penguin for the cover of which tells the story of a group of working men who are joined one day by Owen, a journeyman-prophet with a vision of a just society. Owen's spirited attacks on the greed and dishonesty of the capitalist system rouse his men from their political quietism. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is known as a masterpiece of wit and political passion, one of the most authentic novels of English working class life ever written, but it was Owen's forbearance rather than his radicalism which moved me. His capacity for suffering is almost masochistic. So I set out to depict him with an emaciated Christ-like aura as he endures the harrassment and intimidation of his overseer (left) and employer (right). 
The working drawing (left) and an alternative color way used for the 2008 edition (right).
I stumbled across a copy of the book in Waterstones, Aberdeen. The note underneath says "A wonderful, inspiring book about working class life in the early 20th century socialist movement in Britain. This will stay with you for the rest of your life".
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