Brown, William H. (William Henry), 1808-1883

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Silhouette artist, author, and engineer, of Charleston, S.C.

From the description of William Henry Brown collection, [19uu]. (University of South Carolina). WorldCat record id: 34362609

Epithet: surgeon, of Lewisham

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000704.0x00033a

William Henry Brown was born in 1868 in East London, the son of an active co-operator. He attended pupil teacher's centres at Toynbee Hall and Oxford House University Settlements. By the age of fourteen he was a pupil teacher with a class of forty boys at an East London School.

Brown (often known simply as W.H.B.) came into close contact with many of the contemporary leaders of the co-operative movement, including Thomas Hughes and Edward Vansittart Neale. He made his first public speech in 1888, through the instigation of another pioneer Lloyd Jones, at the meeting of the old Tower Hamlets Society. In the same year he joined the staff of the South Hampshire Evening Star but by 1889 he had returned to London as the assistant editor of the British Trade Journal .

He was a devotee of the co-operative movement. Working along side Edward Owen Greening in plans for joining co-operators of all nations into a close union, these materialised as the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA). He became associated with the Co-operative News, the weekly newspaper of the co-operative movement, in 1895 and from 1898-1916 he worked as their London correspondent.

Brown also held posts within co-operative Societies. From 1895-1916 he was the secretary of the education committee of the Stratford Co-operative Society. He was also a member of the central board of the Co-operative Union, where he played a leading role in the reformation of the Cambridge Co-operative Society in 1899. In 1916 he joined the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) publicity department in Manchester, known as the Co-operative Press Agency. Brown then edited the journal The Producer until his retirement in 1934.

After his retirement in 1934 he still continued to be involved with the co-operative movement. He was a contributor to many co-operative journals and society history publications from his retirement until his death in 1950. For example, Brown wrote profiles entitled the 'Gallery of Officials' of prominent co-operators every month under the pseudonym Timothy Autolycus for the Co-operative Official and this name is used in some of his letters.

Brown was interested in social welfare in general terms also, being associated with the first garden suburb in Ealing in 1901 and the first co-operative industry at Letchworth Garden City. Indeed one if his early publications (1909) was concerned with this development. He was also interested in social reformers, especially the Christian Socialist Charles Kingsley whose biography he wrote. During the First World War he was a member of the War Emergency Workers' National Committee and in the 1918 general election he unsuccessfully contested the Mossley Division of Lancashire as the first Co-operative Party candidate in the constituency. He was a long serving member of the Manchester branch of the Nation Union of Journalists. His other interests included the Home Reading Union, Women's Industrial Council and the International Arbitration League, of with he was a councillor. Brown was an active member of Cross Street Unitarian Chapel, Mossley and a Rechabite.

He died on 15 December 1950 aged 82.

For a list of Brown's writings and further sources about him see, Dictionary of Labour Biography Volume 1 Ed. Joyce M. Bellamy and John Saville (Macmillan, 1972) p. 56.

From the guide to the Papers of William Henry Brown (1868-1950), 1811-1950, (National Co-operative Archive)

Relation Name
associatedWith Brown William Henry 1868-1950 person
associatedWith Co-operative Press corporateBody
associatedWith Greening Edward Owen 1836-1923 person
associatedWith Hart, Charles Henry, 1847-1918. person
associatedWith Hughes Thomas 1822-1896 person
associatedWith International Co-operative Alliance corporateBody
associatedWith Kingsley Charles 1819-1875 person
associatedWith London Co-operative Society corporateBody
associatedWith Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Vansittart Neale Edward 1810-1892 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Constantinople, Byzantine empire
South Carolina--Charleston
Ealing Garden Suburb (England)
United States
Charleston (S.C.)
Letchworth Garden City (England)
Garden cities England History 20th century
Journalism Societies, etc. Europe History 19th century
Art, American
Journalism Societies, etc. Europe History 20th century
Socialism, Christian Great Britain
Newspaper cooperatives
Art--American (?)--Reproductions


Birth 1808

Death 1883




Ark ID: w6cg0nd9

SNAC ID: 29585797