Randall Swingler was born into a prosperous family in Nottingham and was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford. In 1933 he married the concert pianist Geraldine Peppin and moved to the Cotsworlds. In 1934 he joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. A poet, playwright, editor and literary entrepreneur, he set up Fore Publications, and edited the radical literary magazines Left Review, Poetry and the People, Arena, Our Time and The New Reasoner. In line with his communist ideals, Swingler spent the Second World War in the ranks with the 56th Divisional Signals, mostly with the Eighth Army in North Africa and Italy, where he took part in heavy fighting. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery for his part in the battle of Lake Comacchio in April 1945.

Swingler’s war poetry appeared in The Years of Anger, a collection of poems written between 1935 and 1945, which was published in 1946. In the epilogue to the volume Swingler wrote

If they have interest or value, it rests in the chart of inner development which they provide of someone implicated, as we all were in our varying degrees of consciousness, in the stress of those years. Poetry of this character is often more honest and more revealing than reasoned statement, because it arises, even against the reluctance of the conscious mind to admit its formulations, from the deepest levels of human reaction to events, and the pattern which results is often surprising and bewildering to the writer himself.

Randall Swingler’s Poems

Selected Poems of Randall Swingler, edited by Andy Croft, Trent Editions, 2000
The Years of Anger, by Randall Swingler, Garrick Poets I, 1946

Resources for Randall Swingler

Randall Swingler: Poet of the Italian Campaign, Andy Croft, Cecil Woolf Publishing, 2008
Comrade Heart: A Life of Randall Swingler, Andy Croft, Manchester University Press, 2003
A Man of Communist Appearance’: Randall Swingler and MI5, blog by Andy Croft

Photograph of Randall Swingler kindly provided by Andy Croft whose work on the poet has greatly informed the content of this page.