Mark Starr was born in Shoscombe, in Somersetshire, England; on April 27, I894, the son of William and Susan (Padfield) Starr. After graduating from St. Julian's National School in Shoscombe in 1907 he began work as a hod carrier. In 1908 he
became a miner and after seven years, in 1915, the Rhondda district of the South Wales Miners' Federation awarded him a two year scholarship to the Labor College in London. After World War I, the scholarship was renewed for an additional two
Starr taught economics and social history to the miners of the South Wales Federation during 1920-21 and then became the divisional organizer and lecturer for the British National Council of Labor Colleges, a post he held until 1928. During this
period, he also taught
Esperanto which he had learned during World Was I and about which he has always been enthusiastic - even to the extent of urging its use by the United Nations.
Starr came to the U.S. in 1928 to teach British labor history and economics at the Brookwood Labor College, Katonah, New York. There he met another instructor, Helen B. Norton of Kansas and married her on May 31, 1932. Starr remained at
Brookwood as an instructor until 1933 and was then appointed its extension director. Also, for two summers during this period be taught at the Brynn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers.
Starr left Brookwood in January 1935 to accept a challenging appointment as the director of the recently formed Educational Department of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, New York.
In April 1943, Mark Starr became the center of a storm of controversy when his nomination as New York City's first director of adult education was rejected. Starr was the only one of a multitude of candidates to pass the rigorous examinations
given by the board of
superintendents in its long quest for an adult education director. However, due to his lack, of a college degree (a predetermined requirement), and despite a strong wave of protest in opposition to the Board's decision, the Board was adamant in
their refusal to
accept his nomination.
Soon after his rejection, he became a labor consultant for the Office of War Information in London. In 1945, Starr again visited London in the capacity of an advisor to the American delegation attending the United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization conference UNESCO.
Mark Starr has always been active in the political arena. In 1924, in Wimbledon, England, he ran unsuccessfully as the Labor Party candidate for Parliament. Again, in his only other attempt at political office, he was defeated when he ran in
1946 as the Liberal Party candidate for Representative from the Fourth District, Queens, of Greater New York.
In June 1946, President H. S. Truman appointed Starr as one of the thirty members of the National Commission on Higher Education. Mark Starr has also been a Trustee of Town Hall, the President of the League for Industrial Democracy, chairman of
the Queen's County (N.Y.) Liberal Party, a member of the Executive Board of the American Adult Education Association, a member of the New York Adult Education Council, American Labor Education Service, Public Affairs Committee, and the Council
for Democracy. He is also a member of the American Federation of Teachers of which he was a vice president from 1940 to 1942 and is currently president of Local 189.
Mark Starr has been a prolific writer, publishing works in many journals and periodicals. Among the books he has authored are: A Worker Looks at History (1917), -A Worker Looks at Economics (1925), Trade Unionism Past and Future (1923), Lies and
Hate in Education (1928) Workers' Education in the United States (1941), Labor and the American Way(1952), and Creeping Socialism vs. Limping Capitalism (1954).
John Chamberlain, the highly respected author and critic, has refered to Starr as a "canny soft-spoken person who has a deep respect for other peoples rights to their opinion. His teaching method is Socratic; if he disagrees with you he merely
commends to your attention some factors which he thinks you may have overlooked." According to another source, Starr's "vices" are reported to be limited to "reading and clipping newspapers and labor publications, drinking tea, and singing in a
loud voice somewhere between tenor and baritone."