Eaton was born to unknown parents in London and adopted as a baby by a poor family in Rochdale. He left school at 14 and eventually entered the book trade.
With his wife he built up one of the most important and influential second-hand and antiquarian book businesses in post-war Britain, with many influential customers in the UK and abroad. He was also an important socialist, with many close friends in the labor movement, and he was one of the founders of the Domestic Workers Union.
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