Birth in Dublin of Robert Tressell, Born Noonan, Author of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

  • April 18, 1870

Robert Phillipe Noonan (17 April 1870 – 3 February 1911), born Robert Croker, and best known by the pen name Robert Tressell, was an Irish writer best known for his novel The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists.

Tressell spent his early adult working life in South Africa. It was in Johannesburg that he was drawn into labour organisation and socialist politics. In Johannesburg, he was also involved with some of the leading protagonists of Irish nationalism.

He returned to England where he continued to work as a painter and decorator in Hastings and wrote his novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, probably between 1906 and 1910, ‘about exploitative employment when the only safety nets are charity, workhouse and grave.’ George Orwell appraised it as a wonderful book.

Noonan was born in 37 Wexford Street, Dublin, Ireland, the illegitimate son of Samuel Croker, a former Inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who was by the time of the birth a retired Resident Magistrate.

He was baptised and raised a Roman Catholic by his mother Mary Noonan. His father, who was not Catholic, had his own family but attempted to provide for Robert until his death in 1875.