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The Leveller Revolution by John Rees

Insights into the Levellers

Lee Humphries of Printed Matter Bookshop has organised a book reading of The Leveller Revolution with author, John Rees, who tells the gripping story of the Levellers, the radical movement at the heart of the English Revolution.  Zelly Restorick asks Lee Humphries about the book, the author and his dream of running his own bookshop.

ZR: Who were The Levellers and what role did they play in our history?

“The Levellers, formed out of the explosive tumult of the 1640s and the battlefields of the Civil War, are central figures in the history of democracy. In this thrilling narrative, John Rees brings to life the men—including John Lilburne, Richard Overton and Thomas Rainsborough—and women who ensured victory and became an inspiration to republicans of many nations.

“From the raucous streets of London and the clattering printers’ workshops that stoked the uprising, to the rank and file of the New Model Army and the furious Putney debates where the Levellers argued with Oliver Cromwell for the future of English democracy, this story reasserts the revolutionary nature of the 1642–51 wars and the role of ordinary people in this pivotal moment in history.

“In particular, Rees places the Levellers at the centre of the debates of 1647 when the nation was gripped by the question of what to do with the defeated Charles I. Without the Levellers and Agitators’ fortitude and well-organised opposition, history may have avoided the regicide and missed its revolutionary moment. The legacy of the Levellers can be seen in the modern struggles for freedom and democracy across the world.”

Printed Matter Bookshop

Printed Matter Bookshop

What drew you to this book, Lee?

“I am putting on The Leveller Revolution book talk as I have an interest in social history and this is probably an area of our British social history that I know least about. The Leveller Revolution is one of the most important aspects against the British monarchy by its own citizens and trying to grapple power out of the monarch’s hands since the Magna Carter was signed in 1215.

“The Leveller Revolution will be a fantastic subject to learn about as it will inform our knowledge of aspects of the revolution such as the role of the New Model Army and the Putney Debates in bringing social justice and democracy to Britain.”

John Rees

John Rees

Can you tell us anything about the author?

“The author, John Rees, has kindly agreed to come down to the shop and I am really looking forward to hearing about his work and what got him to write about this subject. John Rees is a left-wing British political activist, broadcaster and writer who is a national officer of the Stop the War Coalition, a spokesman for the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and founding member of Counterfire. He is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at Goldsmiths University in London.”

And tell us a bit about yourself and your connection to Hastings

“I set up the bookshop last July and although I have very little experience of running a bookshop, having worked most of my life in homelessness, I have always had a desire to run a bookshop. I established a national charity back in the 90s which supplies free educational books to prisoners (Haven Distribution) and having studied Social Sciences at uni, my desire to work with books has come into fruition.”

Book reading of The Leveller Revolution with John Rees at Printed Matter Bookshop: 30 January 2018, 6pm-8pm at Printed Matter Bookshop, 185 Queens Road, Hastings, TN34 1RG. Tickets £2. Kick-off 6pm. Contact Lee via

(Coincidentally The Levellers, the folk-punk band, are due to appear at the De La Warr Pavilion in March. See here for details.)


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Posted 18:02 Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 In: Literature

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