Harrison, Brian (25 of 25). Oral History of Oral History
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2012-01-24, 2012-02-24, 2012-03-27, 2012-04-24, 2012-05-18, 2012-06-27
Harrison, Brian, 1937- (speaker, male)
Wilkinson, Robert (speaker, male)
Part 25: Prosopagnosia and its effects. World War 2 and effects on Winscombe Way, Stanmore and community spirit. Close to Bomber Command at Bentley Priory. Close- knit neighbourhood but broke away from it when he went to Merchant Taylors School. Street parties in Rowland Close Oxford. Neighbours important. [10:00] Influence of schools. Students in 1960s had a tail of public school layabouts. Fewer of these later, but replaced by less privileged and harder-working students who could not spell. History had higher proportion of hard-working women. PPE more male and more lively. Both Milibands did PPE. David was in a good year. Political changes among the students. [18:00] School prefect system and its impact. Parents father died in 1966. Talks about fathers remarriage and wife. Father interested in temperance book. Mothers mistakes re talking about father to her son as child and teenager. [23:19] Influences in Oxford Robert Currie and John Walsh. Currie had great influ-ence on Brian. Wrote Methodism Divided, then others since then. Both learnt a lot from John Walsh at Jesus College. Other influences - Bryan Wilson at All Souls a pioneer of sociology at Oxford, Philip Williams at Nuffield (biographer of Hugh Gait-skell). He helped Brian with his thesis, and exemplified the intelligence and values that can lie behind a non-theoretical approach to politics. William Edwards he owes a teenage debt to through his Notes on British history; H E Marshall epic story books also influential at an earlier age. [37:00] Skills involved in writing history. Struggled to get familiar with statistical method. Always opposed secrecy in research: believes in free trade in knowledge. [45:1145:39 closed until 1st September 2032] [47:40] Efforts to change the curriculum at Oxford. Constitutional history has now gone off the curriculum. Mentions Vernon Bogdanor positively in writing about the Constitution. Mentions role of Keith Thomas. Mentions group that was set up to change the curriculum, c.1973, especially Tim Mason. Peter Burke also important in early 1960s. Young versus old tutors. [55:00] What is left? Very few regrets. Decline in the country. Talks about President Dover suggesting that students could be excused to play football, a sport which Bri-an disliked. [1:04:00] Admires open-minded people. Like all authors takes a pride in his first book. Pleased with Peaceable Kingdom. Didnt learn a lot from collaborating on a book about photography in the 1880s written with Colin Ford. Separate Spheres is the most interesting book would like to do an enlarged and updated edition. Talks about other books. Mentions a sermon given by K C Wheare later Vice Chancellor about academic vanity. Mentions Robert Faber. Books try to record the history of people not institutions. Theodore Zeldin is something of a model for his two New Oxford History of England books. Talks about articles he is proud of. [1:25:40] Still believes that oral history has its place. Wrote a review of Voice of the Past in the Pelican (college magazine) in 1979/80, pp.71-82. It helps a historian if he understands the views of non-academics. Was on a jury and was struck with the wisdom of a fellow juror, a publican. Recently lent one of his interviews with a philosopher J.O.Urmson to one of his philosophy colleagues. Also acquired a perception of what it is like being old through the earlier interviews. [1:33:40] Would like the index cards to be digitised and available for future use. The money left in his will to the British Academy will endow the digitisation. What he will do in the future.
Life story interview with Brian Harrison, original committee members of the Oral History Society and Emeritus Professor of history at University of Oxford.