Arthur Marwick, (29 February 1936-27 September 2006)

Although I attended a number of summer schools with the Open University during the early to late, and although I heard rumours that he was on campus for some of them, I never actually met, or even laid eyes on, the University’s flamboyantly dressed Professor of history (from 1969 to 2001) Arthur Marwick. Of course, I’d seen him on OU television broadcasts many times, but that, to me, was not quite the same thing as meeting him. 

Because I admired Marwick’s book The Nature of History, a set text for the module on history Arts Foundation Course with which I began my studies with the Open University, and a book which still sits on a shelf about two feet away from me as a reminder of why I should get too enamoured of historians who approach the writing of history with some grand theory in mind, I would have welcomed the opportunity of shaking his hand.

It was so unusual, not to say refreshing, in the mid eighties, when every man and his dog had some theory that would explain the workings of history, and when research was being used to support these, usually half-cocked, theories, to come across someone who said outright that the good historian extracted something approximating the truth by concentrating on methodology and by studying closely primary sources.

I have to say that with his death we have lost one of the good guys.   


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