Oral historians

Harrison, Brian (9 of 25).  Oral History of Oral History

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  • Recording date

    2012-01-24, 2012-02-24, 2012-03-27, 2012-04-24, 2012-05-18, 2012-06-27

  • Interviewees

    Harrison, Brian, 1937- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Wilkinson, Robert (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 9: Mentions why academics dont look at people. Details about publications. Temperance Drink and the Victorians. Had to finish a thesis for his D Phil. Wrote some articles before he published in 1971. Discusses the merits of publishing within an Oxford context and how much of an oral culture it was. Brian believes in writing a thesis. Did not want to stay in temperance so moved on to Girls Friendly Society. Article in Past and Present in 1972. Then studied conservatism. Wanted to write a large tome on womens history. Origin of Separate Spheres. Worked up a talk on womens suffrage. Gave the talk at St Annes College. A woman called Denise Riley under supervision of Jennifer Hart she was doing research on womens suffrage. No-one consulted Brian. So he decided to publish a book on the subject and worked on it in 1976/7. Published with Croom Helm who promised to publish quickly. Cites a number of publications against womens suffrage e.g. Almroth Wright. National League for Opposition to Womens Suffrage had a magazine. Not able to interview anyone who opposed womens suffrage but plenty of written material. [11:31] Found a Chartist autobiography, Robert Lowery, in a temperance periodical whilst at Nuffield. Took it to Patricia Hollis and they collaborated and the book was published by Europa Press in 1979. Had written an article about Robert Lowery which was published in the English Historical Review. Brian was getting involved in researching the feminist movement. Wrote Prudent Revolutionaries. His SSRC funding for the interviews meant that he was going to write a big book but never did. [15:00] Had an approach from Colin Ford from the National Portrait Gallery about a collaborative book using images and text. Co-wrote 100 Years of England in Words and Photographs. Not an amicable arrangement as he did not reply to letters. [18:40] Peaceable Kingdom about pressure groups. Cites an article, The Act of Militancy concerning the IRA and its bombing campaign and relating back to the militant suffragettes. Did not include the Girls Friendly Society in it as Ross McKiven disapproved of it at OUP. Ivon Asquith was commissioning editor at the Press and recruited Brian. Took advice of Michael Sissons who was his agent. Ross Mckibbin did not like the article as their Reader. Gave talks on the IRA and militancy. Had to be on your own as were the suffragettes. [23:20] Trevor Aston and the history of the University. He asked Brian around 1984 to do the volume on the recent past. Trevor had a drink problem and was bi-polar. Diversion away from the project on feminist women. Sectarian issues especially in the Workshop. He dedicated his book on feminism to his mother. Describes the work on the Universitys history went up to 1970. Mentions the role interviewing played as well as other sources. Had a memorable seminar on the troubles in Oxford. Two proctors, James Campbell and John Roberts, spoke followed by some of the students at the time. Michael Brock was very supportive. Seminars fully transcribed. Some recordings are at the BL but complete collection is at the OU Archives. Describes some of the challenges of chairing the sessions. 64 transcripts of the 64 seminars (in fact there were 48). Some of the contributors would be encouraged to attend to help them write their chapters. The Press were very pleased that Brian delivered on time. Stood him in good stead for his role at the DNB. Got on well with Ivon Asquith and Robert Faber and Tony Morris his successor commissioning editors. Robert Faber later helped Colin Matthew with the Dictionary. Describes his publishing history with the Press. Talks about Colin Matthew and why he was asked to do the Dictionary. [38:23] Describes how he was asked after Colin Matthews death to take the work on. Did not want to be an administrator let alone President of the college. Keith Thomas encouraged him when he was President and he was also Chairman of the Supervisory Cttee of the Dictionary. Mentions the letter from 10 Downing Street re knighthood.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Brian Harrison, original committee members of the Oral History Society and Emeritus Professor of history at University of Oxford.

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