Harold Joseph Laski (June 30, 1893 – March 24, 1950) was an English Marxist, political theorist, economist, author, and lecturer, who served as the chairman of the Labour Party during 1945-1946.
Harold Laski was born in Manchester on 30 June 1893 to Nathan Laski and Sarah Laski (née Frankenstein). Nathan Laski was a Jewish cotton merchant and a member of the Liberal Party. His elder brother was Neville Laski. A cousin was the author and publisher Anthony Blond. Harold did his schooling at the Manchester Grammar School. In 1911, he studied Eugenics under Karl Pearson for six months. The same year he met and married Frida Kerry, a lecturer of Eugenics. His marriage to Frida, a gentile and eight years his senior antagonized his family. He also repudiated his faith in Judaism, claiming that Reason prevented him from believing in God. In 1914, he obtained an undergraduate degree in History from New College, Oxford. He was awarded the Beit memorial prize during his time at New College. He failed his medical eligibility tests and thus missed fighting in World War I. After graduation he worked briefly at the Daily Herald under George Lansbury. His daughter Diana was born in 1916.
In 1916, Laski was appointed as lecturer of modern history at McGill University and also started lecturing at Harvard University. He also lectured at Yale University during 1919-20. Laski's outspoken support of the Boston Police Strike of 1919, earned him severe criticism. He returned to England in 1920 and took up a job at the London School of Economics (LSE). Six years later he was made professor of political science at LSE, a post he held till his death in 1950. He also lectured regularly in America and wrote for The New Republic. During his years in Harvard, he became friends with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Herbert Croly and Morris A. Cohen. Apart from his academic work at the LSE, Laski was a executive member of the socialist Fabian Society during 1922-1936. In 1936 he co-founded the Left Book Club along with Victor Gollancz and John Strachey. He was a prolific writer producing a number of books and essays throughout the 1920s and 1930s.