The Communist Party of Great Britain archive

William Gallacher papers
Gallacher, William
Date published: 
January 2009

Series CP/IND/GALL: The CPGB archive has extensive papers of William Gallacher (1883-1965), described by Andrew Thorpe as 'one of the most significant public figures the party ever produced' and second only to Pollitt in this respect. The basis for such a claim is clear: already a well-known figure in his native Scotland, between 1935 and 1950 Gallacher served as the CPGB's longest-serving MP for the constituency of West Fife. The profile this gave him within the party led, amongst other things, to several volumes of autobiography, the first of which, Revolt on the Clyde (1936), has been seen as a prototype of the genre internationally. Gallacher's papers include files relating both to his parliamentary work and to his later spell as party chairman between 1950 and 1956. He also preserved copies of his poetic efforts, whose appearance in print is explicable only by reference to his personal standing, and a series of detective stories which not even this was sufficient to see into print. In one of his books of memoirs Gallacher described how, as a matter of revolutionary vigilance, he had acquired the habit of destroying all notes of meetings he attended, even those sent him by Lenin himself. For this earlier period of Gallacher activities in the party's inner leadership, which date from the CPGB's foundation, there is consequently little trace in his papers, though an important, unguarded memoir survives in the papers of the CPGB history commission (q.v.).