Robert Noonan (Robert Tressell was a pseudonym) was born in Dublin in 1870, but as a young man moved to South Africa, where he worked as a decorator. He came to England at the turn of the century and lived in Hastings, where he worked as a signwriter and interior decorator. Tressell decided to emigrate to Canada in 1910, but died of pneumonia en route in Liverpool in February 1911 and was buried there as a pauper. Tressell was unable to get The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, his only novel, published during his lifetime. It was eventually published in an abridged from in 1914, largely through the persistence of Tressell's daughter, Kathleen Noonan. The unexpurgated version was not published until 1955.