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In Memoriam: Roger Magraw

Dr Roger MagrawThe University is saddened to report the death of Dr Roger Magraw, who played a significant role in developing the identity and the international recognition of the Department of History at Warwick. Here his colleague, Dr Sarah Richardson shares her memories of Roger.

Dr Roger Magraw - a tribute

"Roger joined the Department in 1968; an auspicious year given his political commitment and the focus of his research. He retired as a senior lecturer in 2006 and was awarded the status of emeritus Reader and D.Litt by the university in 2007.

"Roger was one of the leading scholars of nineteenth-century French social history and received the Ordre des Palmes Académiques from the French government in recognition of his work. His major two volume monograph on the history of the French working class showed the deepest mastery of primary and secondary sources and an unapologetic sympathy for his subjects. His most popular book, France 1815-1914: The Bourgeois century remains the standard text for students of nineteenth-century France. But his published oeuvre ranged widely and includes an eclectic collection of articles and essays reflecting his interests in labour history, historiography, consumerism and musicology. The piece he was working on before his untimely death focused on one of his major loves: jazz. He argued that the idea of ‘Jazz as Resistance’ in Vichy France was largely a myth, and that the truth was more mixed and mundane.

"Roger was a much loved teacher and colleague. His brilliant lectures, accompanied by detailed, hand-written crib sheets inspired many. His past students have written in with their own memories including the news reader, royal correspondent and past French and History student, Jennie Bond who wrote, ‘Roger was a great lecturer... at least I remember liking him… but we were very naughty in ’68-’72 and nobody remembers much!’

"Roger would often be found roaming the corridors of the Humanities Building at all times of the day and night. His chaotic office was littered with newspaper cuttings, photocopies of articles, gingernuts and cups of strong coffee. He liked nothing better than to debate key political issues of the day with anyone passing. As admissions tutor, he did much to improve the social profile of the intake of undergraduate students. In these days of widening participation, his strategy would have been regarded as a tremendous asset. He was always willing to listen and to offer advice. His Luddite tendencies were legendary. He eschewed email which meant you had to speak to him to exchange information; a refreshing change when academics and students rarely talk face-to-face. He never learned to drive and took his first flight when in his fifties. His last article was handwritten and delivered to one of the secretaries to type up.

"Roger was an expert on so many topics: cricket, football, music, politics, historical theory and methods. He was a generous, principled and much-loved colleague. He will be sorely missed."

Dr Sarah Richardson, Department of History.