Maguire was born of poor Irish parents on The Bank of East Leeds. In a short life, terminated in poverty by pneumonia, he became an influential socialist and trade unionist. He was a friend and adviser of the likes of William Morris, was a co-founder of the Leeds Socialist League and the architect of the famous Leeds Gasworkers strike of 1891. In addition to being a political thinker and activist, he was a prolific poet. His collected works were published by Edward Carpenter after his death the best of his poems have recently been re-published by the Ford-Maguire Society with a lengthy introduction by John Battle MP giving the political and artistic context to his work.