University of Glasgow


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Please note that these pages are from our old (pre-2010) website; the presentation of these pages may now appear outdated and may not always comply with current accessibility guidelines.


Leon Trotsky

a virtual exhibition

Introduction ~ Overview of the Trotsky Collection ~ Chronology of Trotsky's Life  ~ Exhibition of Trotsky material


On November 7th (October 25th, old style) 1917, the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies issued a decree: ''To the citizens of Russia", announcing the overthrow of the Provisional Government. This was the first official declaration of arguably the most significant political event of the twentieth century -  the Russian Revolution.

A leading figure in these events was Lev Davidovich Bronstein (Trotsky), People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, and subsequently, as Commissar for War, the brilliant organiser of the Red Army. However, following his expulsion from the USSR in 1929, Soviet history was rewritten to minimise the role played by Trotsky in the revolution and the establishment of the Soviet Union. Trotskyism was presented as counter-revolutionary and its originator portrayed as an inveterate opponent of Leninism.

In 1987 - the 70th anniversary of the October Revolution - a small display of material was created from the Library's extensive collection of Trotskiana, which was received as the result of a generous donation in 1983 from Louis Sinclair, Trotsky's bibliographer. The original gift comprised some 1,800 editions of Trotsky's works in 40 languages, together with numerous secondary items and several hundred periodical and newspaper issues containing pieces by Trotsky.

Since then, the Trotsky collection has attracted further donations: notably, a small group of papers and published material from Isaac Deutscher (Trotsky's biographer), presented by his widow. Other significant items which have been acquired include: the first Russian edition of Where is Britain going? (Kuda idet Angliya?) from 1925 (Sp Coll Trotsky R87.93); copies of two films of Trotsky in Mexico, purchased from the cameraman who shot them; and numerous copies of Trotsky correspondence, the originals of which are held in libraries in North America.

To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution, as well as the 128th anniversary of Trotsky's birth, we are pleased to present this updated version of the original display on the web. A fresh assessment of the collection has also been provided by Professor Geoffrey Swain (the Alec Nove Chair in Russian and East European Studies at the University of Glasgow): this provides a personal overview of the collection, drawing attention to its highlights and strengths.

For further advice and information about using the collection, please see the general Trotsky Collection description or contact Special Collections.

Go to an overview of the Trotsky Collection, a chronology of Trotsky's life,  or the virtual exhibition of Trostkiana from Special Collections

Top: Trotsky's passport picture, circa 1915, aged 36.
Photo from:
The Bolsheviki and World Peace, New York: Boni & Liveright, 1918 (Sp Coll Trotsky U72.11)