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BRHG Presents

A Towering Flame

Behind the myth of the elusive anarchist Peter the Painter: separating the fact and fiction of anarchist violence

Mon 3 June 2019 // 20:00

Tickets: £4 / £3

UK book launch, with film inserts, of “A Towering Flame: The Life and Times of the Elusive Latvian Anarchist Peter the Painter” (published by Breviary Stuff Publications) by author and anarchist historian Philip Ruff. A Bristol Radical History Group presentation.

The Houndsditch murders of three City of London policemen in 1910, and the ensuing “Siege of Sidney Street” on 3rd January 1911, in which Latvian anarchists took on Winston Churchill and the British Army, have entered into East London folklore. But who was the mysterious “Peter the Painter”, the supposed leader of the gang believed to have escaped the burning house during the battle? This new book solves the mystery – proof for the first time of his real identity; the amazing story of his life and revolutionary career: and of the hitherto unknown history of Latvian anarchism.

The violent events in London are revealed to be part of the bigger story which lay behind them – the 1905 revolution in the Baltic and the armed resistance to Russian state terrorism which followed. A story of class war, revolution and survival; and of a small nation striving to assert its identity; a story that, in the context of a resurgence of Russian imperial ambition aimed at the Baltic States, has particular resonance today.