The illegitimate son of Samuel Croker, Robert was baptized Croker, but subsequently adopted his mother's maiden name of Noonan. In 1888, he moved to South Africa where he became a painter/decorator. He was married in 1891 and had a daughter, Kathleen, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1895. He became the secretary of the Transvaal Federated Building Trades Council and in 1898 helped to form the Irish Brigade that fought alongside the Boers against the British in the Second Boer War. Around 1899, he went to Britain and settled in Hastings where he managed to find work. His experiences there led him into Socialism and in 1906 he joined the Social Democratic Federation. The following year he developed tuberculosis and lost his job. He took the pseudonym of Robert Tressell and began to write The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, which he completed in 1910. After the manuscript was rejected by numerous publishing houses, he decided to emigrate to Canada with his daughter, but only got as far as Liverpool where he succumbed to his illness. His daughter finally managed to get her father's book published in 1914. Tressell was buried in a mass pauper's grave in Liverpool.
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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
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