Diggers  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Diggers were a group of Protestant English agrarian communists, begun by Gerrard Winstanley as True Levellers in 1649, who became known as Diggers, because of their attempts to farm on common land.

Influence on literature and popular culture

  • In 1966 a faction of the San Francisco Mime Troupe formed a Diggers group in the hippie community in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. A strongly anti-establishment group, they handed out free food in Golden Gate Park
  • "The World Turned Upside Down" by Leon Rosselson, 1975, a song about the Diggers and their activities on St. George's Hill in 1649; this song was performed by Billy Bragg on his Between the Wars EP, 1985; by Dick Gaughan on Handful of Earth, 1981; by Chumbawumba on the b-side of their single "Timebomb," 1993; by Four to the Bar on Another Son in 1995; by Attila the Stockbroker with Barnstormer on The Siege of Shoreham, 1996;by Oysterband on their albums Shouting End of life and Alive and Shouting, 1995 and 1996;by Clandestine, a Houston-based Celtic group, on their To Anybody At All album, 1999; by the Fagans, an Australian folk group, on their album, Turning Fine, 2002; and by Seattle Celt-rock band Coventry on the album Red Hair and Black Leather, 2005.
  • Winstanley, a fictionalized 1975 film portrait of the Diggers, directed by Kevin Brownlow, was based upon the novel Comrade Jacob by David Caute.
  • Rev Hammer's Freeborn John (The Story of John Lilburne—The Leader of the Levellers) (Cooking Vinyl CD, London, 1997), is a recent example of confusion between the Levellers and True Levellers.
  • As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann, Harcourt, 2001 (ISBN 0-15-601226-X) deals in part with the founding and destruction of a fictional Digger colony at Page Common near London.
  • Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is strongly influenced by Winstanley's writings, including the idea of the Republic of Heaven.
  • Caryl Churchill's 1976 play Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, named after the Digger pamphlet and set in the English Civil War, charts the rise and fall of the Diggers and other radical ideas from the 1640s.
  • Jonathon Kemp's 2010 play The Digger's Daughter tells the tale of the Diggers and quotes much of Winstanley's teaching directly.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Diggers" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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