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Sunday, 10 July 2011

Norman Hampson, 1922-2011

More sad news as another former professor of the University of York, Norman Hampson, well-known and respected historian of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, passed away last Thursday.  I can't claim to have known Norman or to have met him on more than a couple of occasions.  Nor did he really teach me, as such.  He did nevertheless have a profound effect on me as an undergraduate. He gave some of the general introductory lectures to us, as the new intake of first-years, about the nature of history and what it meant to be a history student, as well as an introduction to the period between c.1750 and c.1900.  These few lectures are etched on my memory for several reasons.  One is their humanity - the way he told us to work but also to enjoy ourselves and make the most of the opportunities of university.  Another is their humour; he had a wonderful laid-back, dry sense of humour in his lectures.  All this was very important to me as they suggested that history lectures could be stimulating and fun, not simply to listen to but to give (some other lectures by Jim Sharpe had a similar effect).  They suggested that lecturing might be a good thing to do.  Thanks for that, Norman; it's something I have always acknowledged and will ever remain profoundly grateful for.  Rest in Peace.