Perkin, Harold (James) 1926-2004

views updated

PERKIN, Harold (James) 1926-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born November 11, 1926, in Stoke-on-Trent, England; died October 16, 2004, in London, England. Historian, educator, and author. Perkin was a prominent social historian who wrote influential commentaries on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain. He earned a B.A. at Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1948, and followed this with two years of service in the British Royal Air Force. He then returned to Jesus College to complete his master's degree in 1952. His academic career began at the University of Manchester, where he taught from 1950 until 1965. He then moved on to the University of Lancaster, first as a senior lecturer, then as professor of social history until 1984. While there, he also served as founding director of the Centre for Social History. Perkin left England for the United States in 1984, first taking a post at William Marsh Rice University, where he was Mellon Distinguished Professor of the Humanities, and then joining Northwestern University as professor of history. He spent the remainder of his career at Northwestern, retiring as professor emeritus in 1997. As a scholar and author, Perkin is best remembered for his analysis of the changing social structure of England during the Industrial Revolution. He captured his ideas especially in his books The Origins of Modern English Society, 1780-1880 (1969; new edition, 2002), The Rise of Professional Society: England since 1880 (1989; new edition, 2002), and The Third Revolution: Professional Elites in the Modern World (1996). Among his other works are The Age of the Railway (1970), The Structured Crowd: Essays in English Social History (1981), and the autobiography The Making of a Social Historian (2002).



Perkin, Harold, The Making of a Social Historian, Athena Press, 2002.


Guardian (London, England), October 23, 2004, p. 27.

Independent (London, England), November 2, 2004, p. 32.

Times (London, England), December 15, 2004, p. 53.