Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers

David Loewenstein

in The Oxford Handbook of Literature and the English Revolution

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199560608
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers

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Gerrard Winstanley (1609–76), leader of the experimental agrarian communist group known as the Diggers, was one of the most original radical religious writers and social thinkers of the English Revolution, and indeed of early modern England. Between 1648 and 1652, at the height of the English Revolution, he composed and published all his major works: more than twenty pamphlets, letters, and broadsides, including his major utopian text The Law of Freedom in a Platform: or, True Magistracy Restored (1652). This article examines what makes Winstanley a particularly distinctive and powerful radical writer and thinker of the English Revolution. It suggest that his extraordinary achievements as a writer are best understood from an interdisciplinary perspective that highlights interconnections among the social, religious, political, and literary dimensions of his works.

Keywords: English Revolution; agrarian communist groups; radical religious writers; social thinkers

Article.  9547 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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