Liberty or Death: the Yorkshire Luddites

The story of the Luddites and their times continues to fascinate. That is particularly true for those of us who live in that part of Yorkshire where the events were most dramatic. However, what is often overlooked is the extent to which the Luddite events of 1812 and 1813 fit within the broader and more sustained pattern of British social and political radicalism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Alan Brooke and Lesley Kipling, both distinguished local historians, both born and bred in the area, have explored the evidence, and written and lectured about those times, for many years. In 1993 they published the first edition of Liberty or Death. In the tradition of E. P. Thompson, it set the Luddites firmly in that broader context and time frame and met with such immediate success as a new account of the Luddite story that it has long been out of print.

For that reason the Huddersfield Local History Society agreed with Alan and Lesley that they would re-visit their earlier work with a view to the Society publishing a revised edition. This they have done to splendid effect. We now have a new, enlarged and revised edition of Liberty or Death which the Society is proud to publish as one of its contributions to the commemoration of the bicentenary of the Yorkshire Luddites.