Pimlott, Ben(jamin John) 1945-2004

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PIMLOTT, Ben(jamin John) 1945-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born July 4, 1945, in London, England; died of leukemia, April 10, 2004, in London, England. Historian, educator, journalist, and author. Pimlott was an award-winning biographer and most recently served as warden of Goldsmiths College at the University of London. Educated at Worcester College, Oxford, he earned a B.A. there in 1967 and a B.Phil. in 1969; his doctorate was completed at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1978, which was also where he began his academic career as a lecturer in politics in 1970. Ignoring the chance to make tenure at Newcastle, in 1979 he took up a research post at the London School of Economics, where he studied the papers of Hugh Dalton, the chancellor of the exchequer in Britain after World War II. This research resulted in his biography Hugh Dalton (1985), which earned the author the Whitbread Book of the Year award; he also edited Dalton's diaries, which were published as The Second World War Diary of Hugh Dalton, 1940-45 (1986) and The Political Diary of Hugh Dalton, 1918-40, 1945-60 (1987). In 1981, Pimlott accepted a post as lecturer in politics at the University of London's Birkbeck College, and in 1987 he was made a full professor of politics and contemporary history. Besides history, politics was Pimlott's other main interest; he even ran, unsuccessfully, for office under the Labour Party ticket in 1979. Although Pimlott's ideals were commensurate with the Labour Party's, he was disappointed by the political group's ineffectiveness, and when he became an active journalist in the 1980s, he often wrote about his frustrations with Labour. Despite failing to hold office, Pimlott was active in political committees, chairing the Economic and Social Research Council Cabinet Office Whitehall project's steering committee from 1993 to 1994. Contributing to such periodicals as the Guardian, Independent, Times, and New Statesman, Pimlott actually preferred writing for the popular press over contributing to scholarly journals. His biographies also received popularity among the general public, with Harold Wilson (1992) and The Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth II (1996) becoming bestsellers in England. Pimlott left Birkbeck College in 1998 to become warden of Goldsmiths College, where he served two terms in office for an institution well known for its creative and performing arts departments. Also distinguished for his book Labour and the Left in the 1930s (1977) and Frustrate Their Knavish Tricks: Writings on Biography, History, and Politics (1994), Pimlott completed one more book before his death, Governing London, written with Nirmala Rao, in 2002.



Daily Telegraph (London, England), April 13, 2004, p. 1.

Financial Times, April 13, 2004, p. 3.

Guardian (Manchester, England), April 12, 2004, p. 19.

Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), April 13, 2004, p. 18.

New York Times, April 17, 2004, p. A13.

Times (London, England), April 13, 2004, p. 24.

Washington Post, April 19, 2004, p. B7.