Meet man who inspired Tressell

A Mugsborough Rebel: Alf Cobb by Mike Matthews is out now
A Mugsborough Rebel: Alf Cobb by Mike Matthews is out now

A BOOK about the real-life inspiration behind Robert Tressell’s literary masterpiece The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is being re-issued after it was discovered by a distant relative of the subject.

A Mugsborough Rebel: Alf Cobb, by Mike Matthews, tells the story of a draper who left the East End of London for a new life in Hastings in 1900 and went on to become the figurehead for the radical socialist movement which evolved in the town.

That era then formed the backbone of Robert Tressell’s landmark novel – a book which is said to have had a major influence on the British Labour movement throughout the 20th Century.

The title has been previously available but the new 2011 edition contains a stack of new information and photographs supplied by a living relative of Mr Cobb.

The reformist’s sister’s granddaughter Jeanne Roland stumbled across an early copy of A Mugsborough Rebel at a book fair in Worthing and got in touch with the Hastings-based author.

The book is available now, priced £9.95 online at