Compiled by Dr Alex May
29 September 1939 – 17 May 2017
(Hywel) Rhodri Morgan PC, politician and First Minister of Wales from 2000 to 2009, died on 17 May 2017, aged 77. Born in Cardiff, the son of the Welsh scholar TJ Morgan (and younger brother of the historian Prys Morgan), he was educated at Whitchurch Grammar School and St John’s College, Oxford, where he read philosophy, politics and economics, graduating in 1961, and going on to Harvard to take a master’s degree in government in 1963. He worked as a tutor organiser for the WEA in South Wales (recruiting Neil Kinnock as a tutor) before taking posts as research officer for Cardiff City Council, the Welsh Office, and the Department of the Environment, economic adviser at the Department for Trade and Industry, and industrial development officer for South Glamorgan County Council. From 1980 to 1987 he was head of information for the European Commission in Wales. He was Labour MP for Cardiff West from 1987 to 2001 and served as opposition spokesman for Welsh affairs, but was left out of the Blair government. Blair also tried to block his election as leader of the Labour members in the Welsh Assembly, in which he represented Cardiff West from 1999 to 2011. Nevertheless he was elected in 2000, becoming (as leader of a then majority Labour administration) First Secretary, shortly changed to First Minister. At various points he led a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, a minority administration, and a coalition with Plaid Cymru. He stepped down following health problems, but made a full recovery and was Chancellor of Swansea University from 2011. He was survived by his wife Julie (also an MP and Assembly member) and their three children.
13 March 1952 – 11 May 2017
Mark Andrew Colvin, broadcaster, died on 11 May 2017, aged 65. Born in London, the son of John Colvin, a high-ranking MI6 officer and military historian, and his Australian wife, Anne (who separated when Colvin was eleven), he was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he read English. On graduation in 1974 he travelled to Australia, working initially as a labourer but soon entering broadcasting on an ABC cadetship. He remained with the Australian public broadcaster until his death, including for twenty years as host of the daily radio current affairs programme, PM. He had previously been a foreign correspondent and documentary film-maker, reporting on the Solidarity movement in Poland, the 1990 famine in Ethiopia (his documentary winning a gold medal at the New York film festival), and the genocide in Rwanda, where he contracted the rare disease Wegener’s granulomatosis, from whose complications he died. He was survived by his wife Michele and their two sons.
17 July 1930 – 8 May 2017
Basil Hubert Harley, publisher, died on 8 May 2017, aged 86. Born in Wembley, he (along with his brother Raymond, later a distinguished botanist at Kew) was fascinated by natural history from an early age. He was educated at Harrow — where he produced his first book, Birds of the Harrow District (1949) — and, after national service in the Royal Artillery, St John’s College, Oxford, where he read modern history and was secretary of the university ornithological society. On graduation in 1953 he joined his father’s printing business, Harleyprint. He became managing director of Curwen Press following its merger with Harleyprint. In 1983 he founded, with his wife Annette, Harley Books, of which he was chairman and managing director until 2008. At both Curwen Press and Harley Books he specialised in natural history books, with high-quality illustrations and scholarly texts; he wrote or translated several of these himself. Straddling the worlds of natural history and publishing, he was president of the British Entomological and Natural History Society and a fellow of the Linnean Society, and also president of the Double Crown Club and chairman of the Wynkyn de Worde Society. He was survived by his wife Annette and their three daughters.
27 November 1927 – 8 May 2017
The Revd Nicolas David Stacey, athlete, Church of England clergyman, and social activist, died on 8 May 2017, aged 89. The son of a stockbroker, he was educated at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, joining the Royal Navy in the closing stages of the Second World War. The experience of visiting Hiroshima soon after its devastation influenced his decision to become a priest. At St Edmund Hall, Oxford, he read modern history, captaining the combined Oxford and Cambridge athletics team in 1951, the year of his graduation. In 1952 he represented Great Britain at the Olympics, reaching the semi-finals of the 200 metres and the finals of the 4 x 400 metres relay. After training at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, he was ordained in 1953. He served in Portsea, Birmingham and Woolwich, but resigned from the ministry in 1968 following sharp criticism of the church’s social action programmes. While at Woolwich, in 1963 he founded Quadrant Housing Association, which grew to manage more than 90,000 homes; he was later chairman of the East London Housing Association. After leaving the ministry, he was deputy director of Oxfam (1968-70) then a notably progressive director of social services for Ealing (1971-4) and Kent (1974-85). Later he was director of the AIDS Policy Unit. He wrote an autobiography, Who Cares (1971). He was predeceased by his wife Anne but survived by their three children.
2 April 1924 – 6 May 2017
Henry Roger Tempest, landowner, died on 6 May 2017, aged 93. The younger son of Brigadier-General Roger Tempest, he came from a long-established Catholic family (who could trace their ancestors to the Norman Conquest). He was educated at the London Oratory School and Christ Church, Oxford, where his studies in mathematics were interrupted by war service with the Scots Guards. He was severely wounded during the advance into Germany. On recovery he chose not to finish his degree and instead emigrated to Northern Rhodesia, where he initially took up farming then trained as an accountant. He came back to England in 1961, working as a financial officer for the Department of Physics at Oxford before in 1970 inheriting, from his unmarried brother Stephen, Broughton Hall in Yorkshire, with its extensive estates. He restored the Hall, created a business park, and initiated a substantial income stream from corporate entertainment packages. He retained his zest for life, celebrating his ninetieth birthday by sliding down the bannisters. He was survived by his wife, Janet, and their five children.
18 January 1937 – 6 May 2017
The musicologist David Wulstan (originally named David Wulstan Bevan Jones) died on 6 May 2017, aged 80. Born in Birmingham, the son of a vicar, he was educated at the Royal Masonic School in Bushey, and Birmingham School of Music. He became an academical clerk (or choral scholar) at Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1960 (graduating with a degree in music in 1963), a fellow by examination in 1964, and lecturer in the history of music from 1968 to 1978, also teaching at St Hilda’s and St Catherine’s colleges. In 1961 he founded the Clerkes of Oxenford, who pioneered the performance of Tudor church music. After spells at the University of California, Berkeley, and University College, Cork, he was appointed Gregynog professor of music at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (now Aberystwyth University), where he remained until 1990, and later became an honorary professor, from 2010. He became an honorary fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford, in 2007. He published a large number of books and annotated scores; his last book, Listen Again (2015), argued that much ‘modern’ music has not been as revolutionary as supposed. He was survived by his wife, Susan, and their son.
21 June 1934 – 29 April 2017
John Charles Philip Riddy, university administrator and bibliophile, died on 29 April 2017, aged 83. Born in Kempston, Bedfordshire, the son of a teacher, he was educated at St Paul’s School and, following national service in the RAF intercepting Russian transmissions, Hertford College, Oxford, where he read modern history, graduating in 1958. After three years as a factor in Bombay he worked in university administration at Oxford, Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria (where he witnessed the 1966 Igbo massacres) and the University of Stirling. Meanwhile he amassed a notable collection of books on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century India, based initially on purchases from the collection of the Bombay Club but subsequently much expanded, a large part of which he donated to the Borthwick Library at the University of York. He was survived by his wife Felicity, a distinguished scholar of medieval literature (and first woman deputy vice-chancellor at the University of York) and their three children.
28 February 1934 – 22 April 2017
Hazel Denton Fells (née Scott), mathematician and computer programmer, died on 22 April 2017, aged 83. Born in Sheffield, she went to Sheffield High School for Girls and St Hilda’s College, Oxford, where she took mathematical moderations in 1955 but decided not to complete her degree. She went on to train as a teacher at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, and taught briefly at Ely High School, but opted instead to work as a computer programmer, based at Newcastle University, where her husband, the chemical engineer Ian Fells, was to become a distinguished professor of energy conversion. She was particularly involved in enabling researchers to use the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, and in the Thousand Families project (a continuing study of environmental and lifestyle factors in health from infancy onwards). She achieved brief national fame in the early 1980s as one of an all-female team which reached the finals in the BBC DIY science contest, The Great Egg Race (competing under her maiden name since her husband was one of the judges). She also set crossword puzzles, and created a computer program to help her. She was survived by her husband and their four sons, all engineers.
Sir Julian Priestley
26 May 1950 – 22 April 2017
Sir Julian Gordon Priestley KCMG, international civil servant, died on 22 April 2017, aged 66. The son of a Labour-supporting accountant, he was born in Croydon, but brought up largely in Plymouth, attending St Boniface’s College, Plymouth, then Balliol College, Oxford, where he read philosophy, politics and economics, and was chairman of the university Labour Club, and president of the Union. He graduated in 1972 and in 1973, the year of Britain’s accession to the European Communities, he joined the administrative staff of the European Parliament. Not being barred by his European position, he stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate in the second general election of 1974, and again in the elections of 1979 and 1983, but thereafter he concentrated on his administrative career. He was secretary-general of the European Parliament from 1997 to 2007 (overlapping with a fellow Briton, David Williamson, as secretary-general of the European Commission). He was knighted in the latter year. In retirement he wrote several books on the European Parliament’s history and workings and lectured at the College of Europe in Bruges. For the last thirty years of his life he lived in Luxembourg with his partner, Jean Schons, whom he married in 2015, and in the wake of the Brexit vote (which he saw as the triumph of ignorance) he took out Luxembourgeois citizenship. He was survived by his husband.
Sir Ewen Fergusson
28 October 1932 – 20 April 2017
The diplomat Sir Ewen Alastair John Fergusson GCMG, GCVO, died on 20 April 2017, aged 84. Born in Singapore, where his father (also Sir Ewen Fergusson) owned the Straits Trading Company, he escaped with his family days before the Japanese invasion in 1942, and via Australia arrived in England. He was educated at Rugby School and Oriel College, Oxford, where he read modern history and where, 6′6″ and strongly built, he was a rugby blue two years in succession (he also played five times for Scotland). After graduating in 1954 and undertaking his two years’ national service with the 60th Rifles, he joined the joined the Foreign Service in 1956. He served in Addis Ababa, New York and Brussels before becoming private secretary to three successive foreign secretaries, Jim Callaghan, Tony Crosland, and David Owen, then an assistant under-secretary of state. From 1982 to 1984 he was ambassador to South Africa, and after three years as deputy under-secretary of state he was appointed to one of the most prestigious UK diplomatic posts, as ambassador to France from 1987 to 1992. He was knighted KCMG in 1987, appointed GCVO following the Queen’s state visit to France in 1992, and promoted GCMG in 1993. After retiring from the Diplomatic Service he was chairman of Coutts & Co and the Savoy Hotel group, and a director of several other companies, but the position which brought him greatest pleasure was as chairman of the Government Wine Advisory Committee from 1993 to 2003. He was also King of Arms of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George from 1996 to 2007. He was survived by his wife, Sara, and their three children.
8 November 1947 – 17 April 2017
The Rt Rev Michael Francis Perham, Bishop of Gloucester, died on 17 April 2017, aged 69. Born in Dorset, he was educated at Hardye’s School, Dorchester, and Keble College, Oxford, where he read theology. He went on to train for the priesthood at Cuddesdon Theological College. Following a curacy at St Mary, Addington, he was chaplain to the Bishop of Worcester, team rector in Poole, canon residentiary and precentor of Norwich Cathedral, and provost (subsequently dean) of Derby, before becoming Bishop of Gloucester from 2004 to 2014. He wrote a large number of books, particularly on the Eucharist and liturgy, and was involved in a large number of organisations, including as chairman of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (2006–11). His final months as bishop were clouded by an investigation into allegations of sexual assault dating back to the 1980s; it was only in 2014 that the Metropolitan Police announced that there were no grounds for action. He was survived by his wife, Alison, and their four daughters.
14 February 1922 – 13 April 2017
The historian Roger Highfield died on 13 April 2017, aged 95. Born in London, the son of an engineer, he was educated at Dulwich College. His university education, reading modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford, was interrupted by war service with the Kent Yeomanry in the Middle East and Italy. On demobilisation he completed his degree, and in 1948 became a Harmsworth senior scholar at Merton College; in 1951 he was awarded a DPhil for a thesis on fourteenth-century English ecclesiastical history. He was elected a fellow of Merton the same year, and remained there as a college tutor until his retirement in 1989. He published mainly on late medieval Spain, including a textbook, Spain in the Fifteenth Century (1972). Devoted to Merton, and to teaching, in 1997, with Geoffrey Martin, he published a History of Merton College. He never married.
25 September 1933 – 10 April 2017
The broadcaster David Parry-Jones died on 10 April 2017, aged 83. Born in Pontypridd, the son of a Calvinistic Methodist minister, he was educated at Birkenhead School then Cardiff High School, followed by Merton College, Oxford, where he read literae humaniores, graduating in 1956. After national service with the Welch Regiment in Cyprus and Libya he entered journalism, first with the Western Mail and then with the Sunday Times. His move into broadcasting came when he was asked to take over from Michael Aspel as a newsreader for the BBC in Cardiff. With the creation of BBC Wales in 1963 he became a familiar face in the principality, as a newsreader, presenter of current affairs programmes, and most perhaps notably rugby commentator. He also wrote several books on rugby. After leaving the BBC he set up an independent television company, Merlin, which specialised in corporate videos. He was survived by his partner, Beti George (whose account of nursing him through Alzheimer’s disease was shown on BBC One) and the two children of his marriage.
28 August 1929 – 7 April 2017
Rainer Walter (Ray) Guillery FRS, Dr Lee’s professor of anatomy and fellow of Hertford College, Oxford, from 1984 to 1996, died on 7 April 2017, aged 87. Born in Greifswald, Germany, he and his family fled the country in 1938, his Jewish mother escaping to England, where, after a circuitous route, Guillery and his sister joined her. He was sponsored by Oxford Quakers to attend Sibford School. In 1948 he won a scholarship to read medicine at University College, London, but after a year switched to anatomy, taking his BSc in 1951. He stayed on to do research on the hypothalamus, for which he was awarded his PhD in 1954. He taught at UCL (1953-64), the University of Wisconsin at Madison (1964-77), and the University of Chicago (1974-7) before taking up the Dr Lee’s chair. On reaching the statutory retirement age in 1996, he returned once again to the University of Wisconsin at Madison as a visiting professor. From 2007 to 2010 he was a professor of anatomy at Marmara University in Istanbul, and in 2010 he returned to Oxford, where he was an honorary emeritus research fellow in the MRC Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit. His research focused on thalamocortical organisation and cortico-thalamo-cortical pathways, concentrating in particular on the visual cortex. He was most widely known for demonstrating the developmental anomaly in visual pathways associated with albinism. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1983. He was survived by his four children, his marriage having ended in divorce.
25 June 1950 – 5 April 2017
Helen Szamuely, historian, literary scholar, translator, and political activist, died on 5 April 2017. Born in Moscow, the daughter of a Russian mother and Hungarian father (both university teachers), she was brought up in Hungary from the age of three. In 1963 the family left, moving first to Ghana and then to England, where she attended St Paul’s Girls’ School and the University of Leeds, where she read history and Russian. From 1975 to 1979 she was a research student at St Antony’s College, Oxford; she was awarded her DPhil in 1983 for a thesis on ‘British attitudes to Russia, 1880-1918’. She subsequently worked as a freelancer researcher, tutor, writer and translator, including for the BBC Russian Service. From 1997 onwards she was a research fellow at the Centre for Research into Post-Communist Economies. She was an early Eurosceptic, and was a founder member of the Anti-Federalist League but was expelled from UKIP shortly after its foundation in 1993. She nevertheless remained active in anti-EU circles, and later was head of research for the Bruges Group. She was survived by her daughter, Katharine.
22 February 1946 – 31 March 2017
The journalist Rupert Howard Cornwell died on 31 March 2017, aged 71. The younger half-brother of David Cornwell — the author John le Carré — he was educated at Winchester College and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read medieval and modern Greek. In 1968 he joined Reuters’ graduate trainee scheme, working in Brussels and Paris. Switching to the Financial Times, he was posted to Rome — where he wrote a book about the collapse of the Vatican bank — and then Bonn. In 1986 he joined the new Independent as a foreign correspondent, initially in Russia, where he won a Foreign Correspondent of the Year award for his coverage of the unfolding reform under Mikhail Gorbachev. In 1991 he moved to the United States as the paper’s Washington bureau chief; he remained there (contributing to the paper) until his death. He was survived by his wife, Susan, and his two sons.
Pamela Sue Anderson
16 April 1955 – 12 March 2017
Pamela Sue Anderson, philosopher, died on 12 March 2017, aged 61. Born in Minnesota, the daughter of an educational psychologist, she attended St Olaf College there before enrolling for a DPhil at Mansfield College, Oxford; a version of her thesis was published as Ricoeur and Kant (1993). She taught at the universities of Delaware and Sunderland before returning to Oxford as a fellow of Regent’s Park College in 2001. She was made a professor of modern European philosophy of religion in 2014. She was particularly noted for her books A Feminist Philosophy of Religion (1997) and Revisioning Gender in Philosophy of Religion (2012). At the time of her death she had just completed a book on the French philosopher Michèle Le Doeuff, which is now with the publisher. She was predeceased by her partner, Paul Hunt, but survived by her parents, brother, and two sisters.
9 September 1941 – 8 March 2017
James Paley Sabben-Clare, headmaster, died on 8 March 2017, aged 75. The son of Ernest Sabben-Clare, headmaster of Leeds Grammar School, he was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, where he read Greats. On graduating in 1964, he became an assistant master at Marlborough College; in 1967–8 he was a visiting fellow at All Souls College, but, committed to teaching, he joined the staff of Winchester College, becoming head of classics in 1969, second master in 1979, and headmaster in 1985 until his retirement in 2000. He was famed for his theatrical and musical productions, and as a writer of witty lyrics. He was also the author of several books on Greek and Roman politics and literature, and a history of Winchester College. He was survived by his wife, Mary, and their two children.
22 March 1944 – 4 March 2017
Barry Lane, art gallery director and curator, died on 4 March 2017, aged 72. Born in Watford, he was educated at Watford Boys’ Grammar School before reading philosophy and psychology at Oxford, where he was president of the University’s art club. On graduation in 1967 he became the first director of the fledgling Museum of Modern Art in Oxford. In 1970 he joined the Arts Council as a regional arts officer, and then as its first (and to date only) photography officer, organising many seminal exhibitions. In 1995 he joined the Royal Photographic Society as secretary-general but left in 2002 after a disagreement over the sale of the society’s photographic collection and move to smaller premises. He wrote many articles about the archaeology and history of Somerset, and was an honorary curator of the Wells and Mendip Museum. He was survived by his wife, Sue, two daughters, and a stepdaughter.
22 September 1930 – 4 March 2017
Benedict Ebelenna (Ben) Obumselu, literary critic and political activist, died on 4 March 2017, aged 86. Born in Oba, near Onitsha, Nigeria, the son of a prosperous builder and church organist, he was educated at Dennis Memorial Grammar School in Onitsha and University College, Ibadan, where he studied classics. He worked briefly for the West African Examination Council in Accra, Ghana, before embarking on a doctorate at Oxford in 1958. He was eventually awarded his DPhil in 1967 for a thesis on ‘the theme of creativity in Joyce Cary’s novels’. Meanwhile he had returned to Nigeria in 1963, where he lectured in English at what had that year become the University of Ibadan, remaining there until the outbreak of the Biafran war, when he returned to the secessionist south-east, served in intelligence as part of the Biafran army, and helped write the Ahiara Declaration. After the defeat of the Biafran army, he went into exile, working at universities in Zambia, the Congo, Malawi, Botswana, and Swaziland, and at the University of Birmingham in the UK, before returning to Nigeria in 1981, where he combined academic and political activity, the former as a scholar of postcolonial literature and the latter particularly through the pan-Igbo organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo. He was survived by his wife, Fidelia, and eight children.
3 May 1921 – 28 February 2017
The Rt Rev Douglas Milmine CBE, Bishop of Paraguay, died on 28 February 2017, aged 95. Born in Bexhill, he was educated at Sutton Valence School and St Peter’s Hall, Oxford, where he read theology; his studies were interrupted by wartime service as an RAF pilot (spending the last part of the war as a POW). After returning to Oxford and graduating in 1946 he attended Clifton Theological College, and was ordained a priest in 1948. In 1954 he joined the South American Missionary Society, serving in Maquehue, Temuco and Santiago, as archdeacon of northern Chile, Bolivia and Peru, and as Midland area secretary of SAMS before serving as the first Anglican Bishop of Paraguay from 1973 to 1985. In retirement he was an assistant bishop in the diocese of Chichester. He was survived by his wife, Rosalind, and their four children.
25 June 1923 – 28 February 2017
Nicholas Mosley, third Baron Ravensdale MC, author, died on 28 February 2017, aged 93. Born in London, the son of the politician (and later leader of the British Union of Fascists) Sir Oswald Mosley and his wife Cimmie (daughter of Lord Curzon), he grew up in Buckinghamshire and was educated at Eton College and (after war service with the Rifle Brigade in north Africa and Italy, where he won his MC) Balliol College, Oxford, where he read philosophy, politics and economics. For much of his adult life he was estranged from his father. He first made his name as a novelist; Accident (1964) was filmed by Joseph Losey, with a script by Harold Pinter, and much later Hopeful Monsters (1990) won the Whitbread Prize. But he was perhaps better known as a biographer, and particularly for his two books, The Rules of the Game (1982) and Beyond the Pale (1983), about his father. He succeeded to the barony through an aunt in 1966, and to his father’s baronetcy in 1980. He was survived by his second wife, Verity, their son, a stepson, and three of the four children of his first marriage.
Sir Gerald Kaufman
21 June 1930 – 26 February 2017
The politician Sir Gerald Bernard Kaufman PC died on 26 February 2017, aged 86. Born in Leeds, the son of a tailor, he was educated at Leeds Grammar School and the Queen’s College, Oxford, where he read philosophy, politics and economics, graduating in 1952. He worked briefly for the Fabian Society before joining the Daily Mirror then the New Statesman. He spent five years as parliamentary press liaison officer for the Labour Party before being elected MP for Manchester Ardwick in 1970; he remained an MP (from 1983 for Manchester Gorton) until his death, in 2015 becoming Father of the House. He was a minister of state at the Department of Industry from 1975 to 1979, and later shadow environment, home, and foreign secretary. He was chairman of the Select Committee on National Heritage from 1992 to 1997 and of that on Culture, Media and Sport from 1997 to 2005. He was knighted in 2004. He never married.
2 August 1929 – 24 February 2017
The politician David Charles Waddington, Baron Waddington GCVO, PC, died on 24 February 2017, aged 87. Born in Burnley, the son of a solicitor, he was educated at Sedbergh School and Hertford College, Oxford, where he read jurisprudence and was president of the Oxford University Conservative Association in 1950. He was called to the bar by Gray’s Inn in 1951, and, after two years’ national service with the Royal Lancers in Malaya, practised on the Northern Circuit. He was MP for Nelson and Colne (1968-74), Clitheroe (1979-83) and Ribble Valley (1983-90), and served as government chief whip (1987-9) and Home Secretary (1989-90). Ennobled by John Major in 1990, he was Lord Privy Seal from 1990 to 1992 (chairing the Cabinet’s Home and Social Affairs Committee) then Governor of Bermuda from 1992 to 1997. The latter time was not without its controversies, and a no-confidence motion in the House of Assembly was only narrowly defeated, but Waddington had the satisfaction of seeing Bermudians vote overwhelmingly against independence in 1995. He was survived by his wife, Gilly, and their five children.
Sir Roger Young
15 November 1923 – 15 February 2017
Sir Roger William Young FRSE, headmaster, died on 15 February 2017, aged 93. Born in India, the son of educationists, he was educated at Westminster School and, following war service in the navy, Christ Church, Oxford, where he read Greats. He spent two years as a resident tutor at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, before joining Manchester Grammar School as an assistant master in 1951. He became principal of George Watson’s College, Edinburgh, in 1958, and remained in post until 1985. He was active in a very wide range of educational and arts organisations, including as chairman of the Headmasters’ Conference in 1976, and was Scottish governor of the BBC from 1979 to 1984. He was knighted in 1983. His wife Caroline predeceased him, and he was survived by two daughters and two sons.
17 June 1919 – 14 February 2017
The literary scholar Molly Maureen Mahood died on 14 February 2017, aged 97. Born in Wimbledon, the daughter of a civil servant, she was educated at Surbiton High School and King’s College, London (evacuated in 1940 to Bristol), where she read English, graduating in 1941, followed by an MA on seventeenth-century comedy. She was a fellow of St Hugh’s College, Oxford, from 1947 to 1954 before becoming a professor at the University College of Ibadan, Nigeria (1954-63), where among her students was Wole Soyinka, Dar es Salaam University (1963-7), and the University of Kent at Canterbury (1967-79). She was a noted scholar of Shakespeare – her works including Shakespeare’s Wordplay (1957) and Bit Parts in Shakespeare’s Plays (1992) – but was perhaps best known for her work on African, Caribbean and Indian literature in English, including The Colonial Encounter (1977). In retirement she took a degree in botany and published The Poet as Botanist (2008), which won the British Academy’s Rose Mary Crawshay Prize. She never married.
Sir John Wells
30 March 1925 – 8 February 2017
The politician Sir John Julius Wells DL died on 8 February 2017, aged 91. Born in London, the son of a vicar who later became a preparatory school headmaster, he was educated at Eton College and, after war service in submarines, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he read agriculture. In 1958 he beat, among others, Margaret Thatcher to secure the Conservative nomination for the safe seat of Maidstone, and duly represented that constituency in the House of Commons from 1959 to 1987. He was known for his robustly right-wing views. He never held government office but was a member of various Commons and Conservative Party committees, especially those dealing with agriculture. He was knighted in 1984. He was survived by two sons and a daughter, his wife, Lucinda, and one daughter having predeceased him.
22 August 1916 – 6 February 2017
The journalist and broadcaster Anne Hilda Symonds (née Harrisson) died on 6 February 2017, aged 100. She was born in Liverpool, but brought up in Oxford; her mother (widowed in 1917) was a great friend of H H Asquith. She was educated at Oxford High School and Somerville College, Oxford, where she read philosophy, politics and economics, graduating in 1937. She worked for the Daily Express, the Ministry of Information during the war, and the BBC Overseas (subsequently World) Service from 1948 to 1976, noted in particular for her interviews with leading British politicians. In retirement she edited Apex’s journal. Her marriage to Richard Symonds didn’t survive the war; she was survived by her son, Matthew, also a journalist, from a relationship with John Beavan, Lord Ardwick.
David Wedgwood Benn
28 December 1928 – 2 February 2017
The broadcaster David Julian Wedgwood Benn died on 2 February 2017, aged 88. He was born in Greenock, the son of the politician William Wedgwood Benn (first Viscount Stansgate) and younger brother of the politician Tony Benn. He suffered from tuberculosis as a child and was educated at home, but went on to Balliol College, Oxford, where he read philosophy, politics and economics, graduating in 1951, and subsequently trained as a barrister. He joined the BBC World Service in 1963, and remained with the service until his retirement, developing a reputation as an authority on the politics of the eastern bloc. He wrote several books, including Persuasion and Soviet Politics (1989) and From Glasnost to Freedom of Speech (1992). His wife, the novelist June Benn, died in 2006, and he was survived by their two children.
Sir Christopher Bland
29 May 1938 – 28 January 2017
The businessman and public servant Sir (Francis) Christopher Buchan Bland died on 28 January 2017, aged 78. Born in India, the son of a manager in the oil business, he was educated at Sedbergh School and, after national service in the Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, the Queen’s College, Oxford, where he read modern history, graduating in 1961. Turned down for the BBC trainee scheme, he soon made his mark in business with, among others, Singer, Currys, and the management consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton. He was also involved in Conservative politics, and was briefly a member of the Greater London Council, representing Lewisham, and chair of ILEA’s schools committee. Among many other positions he was deputy chairman of the IBA (1972-80), and chairman of LWT Holdings (1984-94), the BBC board of governors (1996-2001), British Telecom (2001-7), and the Royal Shakespeare Company (2004-11). He was knighted in 1993. He was survived by his wife, Jennifer, their son, and four step-children.
16 April 1934 – 23 January 2017
The journalist Andrew Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson died on 23 January 2017, aged 82. The son of the novelist A S M Hutchinson, he was educated at Harrow School and Worcester College, Oxford, where he read philosophy, politics and economics. After graduating in 1956 he joined the Yorkshire Post before moving to the news department of the Daily Telegraph, where he remained until his retirement, becoming night editor then deputy editor of the paper following its takeover by Conrad Black in 1986. In retirement he edited a commonplace book for the Sette of Odd Volumes. He was survived by his wife, Monica (who had been secretary to the editor of the Sunday Telegraph), and their four children.
17 November 1934 – 12 January 2017
The political scientist and psephologist Anthony Stephen King FBA died on 12 January 2017, aged 82. Born in Canada, he went to high school there and took a degree in history at Queen’s University, Ontario, before coming to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar at Magdalen College, where he took a second degree in philosophy, politics and economics. He then moved to Nuffield College but by the time he submitted his DPhil in 1962 he had returned to Magdalen College as a fellow (1961–5). In 1966 he moved to the new University of Essex, becoming a reader in 1968 and professor of government in 1969. He wrote many books on parliament and elections (including a series, ‘Britain at the Polls’), but he was more widely known as an election night broadcaster, and a regular commentator on the latest opinion polls for the Daily Telegraph. He was a member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (1994–8) and the Royal Commission on House of Lords Reform (1999). He was elected an FBA in 2010. He was survived by his second wife, Jan, his first wife, Vera, having predeceased him.
27 March 1933 – 11 January 2017
The newspaper magnate and philanthropist James Oswald Fairfax AC died on 11 January 2017, aged 83. Born in Sydney, the eldest son of Sir Warwick Fairfax, head of the family enterprise which owned of the Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne Age, and many other titles, he was educated at Geelong Grammar School, the University of Sydney, and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read modern history, graduating in 1955. He became a director of John Fairfax Ltd in 1957 and chairman in 1977, and it was under his watch that John Fairfax bought the London Spectator, but he was ousted in a family boardroom battle following his father’s death in 1987, selling his share in the company for A$164 million. Three years later the company collapsed, with A$1.7 billion of debts. He spent his later years meditating at a mountain retreat in Japan, writing his memoirs, My Regards to Broadway (1991), and travelling. Among many benefactions was funding in 1993 for Balliol College’s graduate centre at Holywell Manor. He never married.
18 May 1932 – 10 January 2017
The literary agent Anthony Leonard Sheil died on 10 January 2017, aged 84. Born in London, the son of an army officer and a Canadian railroad heiress, he was brought up at Heyford Manor in Northamptonshire, and then in County Dublin (where his parents owned a stud). He was educated at Ampleforth College and, after national service, Christ Church, Oxford, where he read modern history, graduating in 1956. Abandoning plans to become a barrister, he set up a literary agency with his friend James Kinross in 1962. The agency thrived through several acquisitions, the launch of a New York agency and of a foreign rights agency, its clients including Catherine Cookson and Patrick Leigh Fermor, but finally folded in the 1990s. Latterly Sheil worked as an associate agent at Aitken Alexander. He was predeceased by his second wife, Annette Worsley-Taylor (the driving force behind London Fashion Week).
23 June 1935 – 10 January 2017
The Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Oliver Smithies died on 10 January 2017, aged 91. Born in Halifax, the son of an insurance salesman, he was educated at Heath Grammar School, Halifax, and Balliol College, Oxford, where he graduated in physiology in 1946, took part one of chemistry in 1948, and obtained his DPhil in 1951 for an investigation of ‘the physico-chemical properties of solutions of proteins’. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin, a researcher at the Connaught laboratories, University of Toronto, and professor of genetics and medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin before moving in 1988 to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Society in 1998 and awarded an honorary DSc by Oxford in 2011. He jointly won the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 2007 for his work on gene targeting (the other recipients being Mario Capecchi and Sir Martin Evans). He continued working into very old age. He was survived by his second wife, Nobuyo Maeda.
19 June 1938 – 4 January 2017
Sandra Landy, née Ogilvie, bridge player, died on 4 January 2017, aged 78. Born in Croydon, the daughter of a banker, but brought up in Sussex, she attended Hove County Grammar School for Girls and St Anne’s College, Oxford, where she read mathematics, and was the first woman to play for the university bridge team. She went on to do a diploma in numerical analysis and computing at Cambridge University, where she won a second half blue. After graduating she taught computer science at Brighton College of Technology and its successor, Brighton Polytechnic, but eventually gave up teaching to concentrate full-time on bridge. She represented Great Britain in eleven world championships (winning twice, in 1981 and 1985) and sixteen European championships (winning five times). She also wrote several books on bridge and was responsible for developing the English Bridge Union’s ‘Bridge for All’ teaching programme. Her husband Peter Landy, a civil servant whom she had married in 1967, died in 2005. She was survived by a son and a daughter.
Sir Tony Atkinson
4 September 1944 – 1 January 2017
Sir Anthony Barnes (Tony) Atkinson FBA, economist and Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford, from 1994 to 2005, died on 1 January 2017, aged 72. Born in Caerleon, Monmouthshire, the son of a carpentry teacher, he was educated at Cranbrook School in Kent and, after a gap year working in a hospital in a deprived part of Hamburg, Churchill College, Cambridge, here he switched from mathematics to economics, graduating in 1966. He was a fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge (1967-71), then professor of economics at Essex University (1971-6), the London School of Economics (1976-92) and Cambridge University (1992-4) before moving to Oxford as Warden of Nuffield College. From 2005 to 2009 he was a senior research fellow at Nuffield and from 2007 to 2009 professor of economics at Oxford. He was widely acclaimed for his work on social inequality, and became known as the ‘godfather of inequality research’. He wrote or co-wrote some 40 books and 350 journal articles; his last book, Inequality: What Can be Done? (2015), set out an ambitious programme for reversing the trend towards greater inequality. He was elected an FBA in 1984. He was survived by his wife, Judith, and their three children.
11 December 1942 – 1 January 2017
The philosopher Derek Antony Parfit FBA died on 1 January 2017, aged 74. Born in Chengdu, China, the son of missionary doctors, he was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read modern history. On graduating in 1964 he spent two years as a Harkness fellow at Columbia and Harvard universities before returning to Oxford as a prize fellow in 1967. He remained a fellow of All Souls thereafter, from 1984 as a senior research fellow and from 2010 as an emeritus fellow. Soon after his return to Oxford his interests switched from history to philosophy, and he scored an immediate success with his first publication, in the Philosophical Review in 1971, on the problem of personal identity. Although he only published two books, Reasons and Persons (1984), and On What Matters (2 vols, 2011), he had an international reputation in moral philosophy and the new field of population ethics. He was elected an FBA in 1986. He was survived by his wife, the philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards.
Dr Alex May, who compiles these obituaries, is Research Editor at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.