Leslie Paul

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Leslie Allen Paul (1905, Dublin – 1985) was an Anglo-Irish writer and founder of the Woodcraft Folk. [1]


Born in Dublin in April 1905, Leslie Paul grew up in South East London. After World War I he became deeply involved with scouting and related youth movements.

He left the Scouts to join the Kibbo Kift Kindred but after a dispute with the Kibbo Kift leader, John Hargrave in 1925, some south London co-operative groups challenged Hargrave's authoritarian tendencies. The dispute was over his refusal to recognise a local group called "The Brockley Thing". The result was a split, and a group, including Paul, broke away from the Kindred, to form the Woodcraft Folk which is still active. Paul was appointed leader of the Woodcraft Folk and later came to be identified as its founder. [2] Although in fact the organisation was the work of a number of people, Paul was its most eloquent member and was usually called upon to represent it to outside bodies. Paul's political views were inspired by H. G. Wells, William Morris,and Edward Carpenter, while his ideas about children's education were partly drawn from Rousseau's Emile. [2] In addition, Paul was also active in the pacifist No More War Movement. [3] Paul was an outspoken critic of the Axis powers, as well as the Soviet Union following the latter nation's signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.[3] After the outbreak of World War Two, Paul abandoned his pacifism and supported the British war effort.[3]

After the Second World War Paul became an active member of the Church of England, leading to his moving away from the radically orientated Woodcraft Folk, and later a professional clergyman. His most significant act within the Church was the production of the Paul Report into the payment of the clergy, which led to extensive modernisation of the Church's organisational structure.


"The Folk Trail" Woodcraft Folk leaders manual. ?1928

In 1951 he wrote an autobiography called Angry Young Man. The title subsequently became the catchphrase "angry young men" used to describe a generation of British writers, including Kingsley Amis, Colin Wilson and (over-broadly) applied to authors of the "kitchen sink dramas".

"The Early Days of the Woodcraft Folk" historical pamphlet (undated, believed written between 1975 and 1980)

"Heron Lake" - diary of a year spent in the Norfolk countryside.


  1. Labour and the Countryside: the Politics of Rural Britain, 1918–1939 by Clare V. J. Griffiths. Oxford University Press, 2007 (pgs. 98-9)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Derek Wall, Green History : A Reader in Environmental Literature, Philosophy and Politics Routledge, 1993. ISBN 041507925X (pp. 228–229 232–34)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Martin Ceadel, Pacifism in Britain, 1914-1945 : the defining of a faith. Oxford : Clarendon Press ; 1980.ISBN 0198218826 (p. 294, 303)
  • W. H. Saumarez Smith, ‘Paul, Leslie Allen (1905–1985)’, rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004