Perham, Margery (1895–1982)

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Perham, Margery (1895–1982)

British scholar, writer and lecturer on African affairs . Name variations: Dame Margery Freda Perham. Born in 1895; died in 1982; educated at St. Anne's School, Abbots Bromley, and St. Hugh's College, Oxford.

Selected writings:

African Apprenticeship (1929); Native Administration in Nigeria (1937); Africans and British Rule (1941); The Life of Lord Lugard (2 vols., 1956, 1960); The Colonial Reckoning (1963); The Colonial Sequence (2 vols., 1967, 1970).

Educated at St. Anne's School, Abbots Bromley, Margery Perham gained an Open Scholarship to St. Hugh's College, Oxford University, in 1914, and left with a first class honors degree in modern history in 1917. She was appointed assistant lecturer at Sheffield University the same year, but later returned to her old college as Tutor and Fellow. Here she was promoted to Reader in colonial administration and was made Fellow of Nuffield College in 1939. She was also associated with the Institute of Colonial (now Commonwealth) Affairs at Oxford. In 1961, Perham became the first woman invited to give the prestigious BBC annual Reith lecture.

In 1922, Perham had suffered a nervous breakdown and stayed with her sister in Somaliland to recover. There she became intrigued with African affairs. A champion of "indirect rule" as proposed by Lord Lugard, she established her authority on the subject with her book Native Administration in Nigeria (1937).


The Europa Biographical Dictionary of British Women. Europa, 1983.

Elizabeth Rokkan , retired Associate Professor of the Department of English University of Bergen, Norway

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