Icon pays tribute to 'brilliant' Leslie Smith

Icon pays tribute to 'brilliant' Leslie Smith

Icon Books has paid tribute to "brilliant polemicist and inspiring activist” Harry Leslie Smith who has died aged 95, making two of his e-books free over the weekend to ensure his anti-austerity message continues.

A survivor of the Great Depression, Smith was also a second world war RAF veteran and an activist for the poor and for the preservation of social democracy. He began writing later in life, with books Harry’s Last Stand and Love Among the Ruins published in 2014 and 2015 respectively. He died on Wednesday (28th November) morning.

Now his publisher, Icon Books, has announced it is making two of his e-books, Harry’s Last Stand and Love Among the Ruins, free over the weekend (1st - 2nd December) in tribute to the left-wing campaigner "and to keep spreading the word”.

Smith, who lived across Toronto, Canada and in Yorkshire, had suffered suspected pneumonia while with his son John in Ontario, according to the BBC. John tweeted this morning, from his father’s Twitter account which has more than 257,000 followers: "At 3:39 this morning, my dad Harry Leslie Smith died. I am an orphan. #istandwithharry.”

John later tweeted: "I want to see his two self published books 1923 and Empress of Australia find a publisher so that more people will read about my dad's early days.”

Smith was the son of a miner, who joined the RAF in 1941, according to the BBC. He became a vocal campaigner for social justice and against austerity with his podcast, and Twitter account as well as his articles and books. A number of high profile figures have paid tribute to him including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and singer Billy Bragg.

Icon’s m.d., Philip Cotterell, said: "We are desperately sad to hear of the passing of Harry Leslie Smith, one of Icon’s favourite authors. He was a brilliant polemicist and author, an inspiring activist, a loving father, and much more. We are immensely proud to have published two of his books.

"When we published Harry’s Last Stand: How the world my generation built is falling down, and what we can do to save it when Harry turned 90, we were all struck by the power of his writing. He drew upon his experience of the Great Depression and World War Two to issue a wakeup all to us all about the state of our society. He astonished us all with his energy and determination to spread the word – his speech at the 2014 Labour Party Conference was unforgettable, and he worked tirelessly to campaign for social justice and especially for the NHS.

"Everyone at Icon warmed to his charisma, his warmth, and his passion, as well as his dedication to making the world a better place."

Cotterell added: "Our thoughts are with Harry’s family. The world is far poorer without him."

Harry’s Last Stand was published in 2014 and covers the campaigner's thoughts on NHS cutbacks, benefits policy, political corruption, food poverty, the cost of education. Love Among the Ruins, published in 2015, was his memoir about finding love whilst aged 22 and stationed in occupied Hamburg following the Second World War.