Obituary: E. C. Kersley

Ted Kersley died on March 18th after a short acute illness. He was in his 88th year. A number of members and ex-members of the party attended his funeral at Harlow cemetery on a grey and chilly afternoon, March 25th.

His career was remarkable. He had little formal education, and spent some of his early years in an orphanage. Before he was twelve years old he was at work, supplementing the meagre family income. A conscientious objector on Socialist grounds when war broke out in 1914 when war broke out in 1914, he was rejected and sent into the army. In France he owed his life to his wits, employment as a regimental cook, and a relative disregard for military obligations and procedure. After his discharge he became a dealer and “runner” in the art trade. A tribute to him and his achievement in this filed appeared in The Times of March 31st. Perhaps the most glowing acknowledgment of all those he was accorded must be that in the late Sir Arthur Elton’s edition of Klingender’s Art and the Industrial Revolution.

He joined the Party in 1910, and must therefore have been the oldest surviving member of that vintage. We do not remember him as the holder of long office, as a public speaker or writer — though no-one who heard them will forget his inimitable lectures on his chosen subject illustrated with original material. But there will be few of his time who do not remember him. He was always around — when something was to be done, to take the chair, to put up notices, at elections, at public meetings. In later years after an illness he lost his old energy, but his interest never wavered. He took a generous view of the Party’s case — though he suffered no dilution or attrition — because he brought a many-sided attitude to it. Controversy never rankled with him, though he could be vehement in disagreement. One can say of Ted that the Party, its principles, its Marxism informed all his activities. Yet he was one of those for whom the party’s views was not merely a statement touching capitalism, its cause and cure, but more profoundly on his life a philosophy and purpose. Many will recall the radio programme “The Art Trade Runner” which was widely regarded as a classic of broadcasting. In it, Ted insisted on declaring himself a lifelong revolutionary Socialist. The Times obituary contained no reference to his Socialism, showing that if some aspects of a man’s life are recognizable by the Establishment others are not.

We share our regrets at his passing with Nancy his wife, who participated in the hard work and struggles of earlier days, and is still a member of the Party.

C. Devereaux

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