The Kate Sharpley Library and Stuart: an appreciation

The Kate Sharpley Library Collective were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Stuart. From our very earliest days Stuart was a mentor and a supporter and we want to acknowledge his generosity and kindness. We shared his political outlook and his approach to history and we are proud to stand in that tradition. We know it just wasn’t us he helped on historical and philosophical matters. A seventeen year old from Scunthorpe would get a response from Stuart equal to any learned professor who wrote to Stuart looking for help. Carrying on the work of Miguel Garcia and Albert Meltzer, Stuart was responsible for bringing to life literally hundreds of anarchists and militants who had, until his work, been forgotten in the pages of history. It was an amazing feat of historical scholarship. He brought them back because he came to understand that anarchism wasn’t about great thinkers and writers but was something made by the efforts and sacrifices of ordinary people. He encouraged us think about that beautiful ideal of anarchism in a different way than you read in most of its histories.

It would have been easy for Stuart to play the role of hero and champion. He rejected that and any other idea of him being a leader, which shows the measure of the man. To us he was a friend with a delicious sense of humour overlaid with a magnificent generosity of spirit. It seemed he would always be there, chasing us up for the most obscure references or telling us to read books we had never heard of. Sadly that was not to be. We loved the man, not the legend that has crept into some coverage of his death and we send our love and support to his family. He would have been the first to say that without you and Brenda he would have been a lesser person.