Geoff Andrews is a writer and historian who specialises in the history of political ideas and political biography. His most recent book is The Shadow Man: At the Heart of the Cambridge Spy Circle (I.B.Tauris 2015).
Born in Cardiff in 1961, Geoff left school at 16 and in 1983, after getting involved in the Union of Communication Workers and taking an Open University course, he went to Ruskin College, Oxford, where he was taught by David Selbourne and Raphael Samuel. From Ruskin he went to University College, Cardiff, where he graduated in 1988 with a first class degree in the History of Ideas.
After a brief period of postgraduate work in Oxford, during which he published his first book, Citizenship, he took a break from academic life and got involved with the cultural politics of the left in and around the Communist Party and the influential magazine MarxismToday, returning to teach with the Open University in London in 1991. In 1995, he was appointed as a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Hertfordshire, before moving to his current job as Staff Tutor and Senior Lecturer in Politics at the Open University in 2000. He gained a PhD in 2002 from Kingston University for his thesis on the history of the British Communist Party.
During the 1990s, Geoff researched the history of the British left which led to more publications:Opening the Books (with Nina Fishman and Kevin Morgan) in 1995, New Left, New Right and Beyond, (with Richard Cockett, Alan Hooper and Michael Williams), and Ruskin College: ContestingKnowledge, Dissenting Politics (with Hilda Kean and Jane Thompson) both published in 1999. Endgames and New Times: the Final Years of British Communism, based on his PhD thesis, was published in 2004.
In October 1994, following a premiership match between Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers, Geoff and Mark Perryman, his friend and comrade from the Communist Party days, had the idea of a new kind of football shirt, one which would carry the quotes of philosophers about football. The idea of Philosophy Football was born as a modest attempt to change football culture and the company was subsequently set up by Perryman and the graphic designer, Hugh Tisdale, with Geoff managing the football team of the same name. Philosophy Football FC played its first game in London in early 1995. After some spectacularly unsuccessful early seasons, the fortunes of the team changed dramatically, with three championship victories and over twenty European tours since 2000. Philosophy Football, through its shirts, cultural events and the internationalism of the football team, has now been a dissenting voice in football culture for nearly fifteen years. The arrival of the Italian football journalist, Filippo Ricci, was the catalyst for the change in the club’s fortunes and the Andrews-Ricci managerial partnership brought success on the pitch and widening recognition off it.
Philosophy Football, a team composed of writers, teachers and musicians, has played at some of the leading stadia in Italy, including La Borghesiana, the training ground of the national team and the Stadio dei Marmi in Rome, and have taken part in many tournaments and festivals promoting internationalism and friendship throughout Europe. The team continues to play Three-Sided Football in the Luther Blissett League in Deptford, South London. More details about the team can be found here http://www.philosophyfootballfc.org.uk/
Since 2001, a main focus of Geoff’s writing has been Italian politics, and his book Not a Normal Country: Italy After Berlusconi, based on his travels, interviews and experiences of Italy in the Berlusconi era, was published in 2005. Geoff has commented regularly on Italian politics since for the BBC, Sky and other media. His interest in Italy continued with a book on the Slow Food movement, an international political movement with origins in Bra, Piedmont and which now has 84,000 members in over 120 countries. The Slow Food Story: Politics and Pleasure was published in the UK and North America in 2008 and in Italy in 2010 as ‘Una storia tra polita e piacere’. While writing on Italy, he lived at different times in Bologna, Rome and Bra. In 2014 he founded Sicily Unlimited, ‘to explore Sicily’s rich history and culture, stimulate discussion, through regular summer schools in Sicily and to promote sustainable links with local people and associations’. sicilyunlimited.com
His recent work on political biography has enabled him to return to earlier interests in labour and social history. He is currently working on a biography of the 19th century social commentator Thomas Wright (‘the journeyman engineer’). He has also started a new research project on Oxford communists in the 1930s.