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Senate House Library

Heisler Collection

The Collection

Subject: Politics

A comprehensive collection on left-wing politics, relating especially to labour and radical political movements, and to political expression in art, drama and literature. It currently comprises approximately 25,000 books, 20,000 pamphlets, 3,000 journal and newspaper titles, archival material, and a quantity of ephemera. 

Strengths include items published by radical groups, grassroots groups, friendly societies and the Chartists from the late-eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, and many publications of Trotskyist groups, the Independent Labour Party and the Communist Party from the early to mid-twentieth century. Material ranges from novels and children’s books portraying poor social conditions to song books, recipe books, biographies, manifestos, reports and more. 

Particular emphasis is on Britain and Ireland. British material is especially strong for local publishers and self-published works since the 1960s. From the 1960s and 1970s, the holdings of New Left material are very extensive. There are some uncommon publications from the women’s movement. 

The collection further covers Africa, particularly South Africa; Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the West Indies; France, Germany, Italy and Spain (notably the Spanish Civil War); and the former Soviet Union. A substantial proportion of material in the collection was published in very small quantities; some is scarce. 

The collection is the gift of academic Ron Heisler, who joined us for a panel discussion in November 2023. Donations began in 2004 and are ongoing.


For an overview of the collection, do a mixed classmark search on ‘[Heisler]’. For pamphlets only, search on: [Heisler] P. The collection is held off-site and material requires 48 hours (excluding weekends) to be fetched. Some items are available digitally via the ‘Far left’ section (available autumn 2022) of the Gale Cengage database Political Extremism and Radicalism.

Related materials

Further reading