The life story of Will Crooks has a Dickensian resonance. As a working class child, born into abject poverty, he experienced the rigours of Poplar Workhouse and Poor Law school. Nearly forty years later, Crooks became Chairman of the Poplar Board of Guardians, the very board that had given him shelter during his challenging early years. Crooks was a member of the Coopers' Union for fifty-five years, and a leading pioneer of the trade union and Labour movement for over thirty. This significant, and sometimes controversial, figure has been overlooked by modern historians. Here Paul Tyler presents a pioneering political biography of a significant Labour figure, at both a local and national level, and an important reinterpretation of the early trade union and labour movement from the 1880s to the 1920s.