Anarchy Man!

thin line

The Anarchist Encyclopedia:
A Gallery of Saints & Sinners ...

thin line

Herbert Read, British anarchist
// --
Herbert Read


Beknighted Anarchist. Born December 4, 1893, Yorkshire, England.

English poet, art critic, anarchist, political philosopher, man of letters, assistant conservator of Victoria & Albert Museum of London, professor of fine arts in Edinburgh & various English universities.

Herbert Read became an anarchist after reading Edward Carpenter's booklet Non-Governmental Society (1911).

Wrote Anarchy & Order; Poetry & Anarchism (1938); Philosophy of Anarchism (1940); Education & Art (1943); Revolution & Reason (1953); My Anarchism (1966), etc. Early champion of Surrealism, Henry Moore, etc. Accepted a knighthood which caused much consternation & ridicule among the anarchist milieu.

Read was a poet, art critic & champion of modern art in Britain, & produced approximately 1,150 titles on a broad range of topics. His 80 monographs include 26 on art & artists; 14 literary criticisms; 13 collections of poetry; 10 on politics, primarily on anarchism; seven "belles lettres" & biography; five on education, most notably "Education Through Art"; & five autobiographies.

Read died in 1968, age 75 years.

Herbert Read, critic & anarchist

Henry Moore, Sculptor: An Appreciation (Zwemmer, London 1934); Henry Moore: A Study of His Life & Work (Thames & Hudson, London 1965; Praeger, NY 1966); Henry Moore: Mother & Child (Unesco/Collins, London; New American Library, NY; Silvana, Milan 1966).

Huang Yongping, was a founder of 'Xiamen Dada' in his southern Chinese hometown . Huang's 'A History of Chinese Painting' & 'A Concise History of Modern Painting' Washed in a Washing Machine for Two Minutes (1987/1993) reduced two standard art-historical texts by Wang Bomin & Herbert Read, to a pile of pulp, which was then placed on the museum floor, as if to declare a parodic Year Zero for art.

Nicholas Jose, "Pulping Herbert Read in a Washing-Machine"


Herbert Read was a poet, literary critic, educationalist, philosopher, art critic, a historian of modern art & design & its foremost propagandist in Britain. He was also an articulate & prolific anarchist.

From his declaration of anarchism in 1937 until his acceptance of a knighthood in 1953, Read contributed articles, book reviews & poems to the anarchist press.

Read issued a statement justifying his acceptance of a knighthood for services to literature, an act for which, it now seems, his wife was largely responsible but which aroused indignation & anger at the time among many in the anarchist movement. Yet he espoused his anarchist beliefs to the end, despite his waning influence in the art scene.

The anarchists, it could be said, had the best of his life.

See: A One Man Manifesto & Other Writings (Freedom Press)

Edward Carpenter (Towards Democracy; Angel Wings; Walt Whitman, etc), see

A critical quick assessment of Read's anarchism based on two reviews of Herbert Read & Alex Comfort, see
See the Herbert Read materials at Anarchy Archives
Wikipedia, see

Herbert Read

"Herbert Read, in "Chains of Freedom," writes that we need a "Black Market in culture, a determination to avoid the bankrupt academic institutions, the fixed values & standardized products of current art & literature; not to trade our spiritual goods through the recognized channels of Church, or State, or Press; rather to pass them 'under the counter.'" If so, one of the first items to be passed under the counter must surely be the literature that speaks, counter to all the falsifications, about the ideas & imaginings of anarchism."

Howard Zinn, The Zinn Reader, p.655

Naked Warrior book cover

Page created January 2003; Last updated February 2003; October 2005; June 2010

Use your back button to return to your last page

Or visit

The Anarchist Encyclopedia | Daily Bleed Calendar | The Stan Iverson Archives | The Anarchist Timeline

anti-CopyRite 1997-3000, more or less

Questions, suggestions, additions, corrections to David Brown at dailybleed @

The Anarchist Encyclopedia is freely sponsored & produced by Recollection Used Books

Cat Has Had the Time of His LifeRecollection Used Books Logo