Obituary: Professor Paul Hair

By Tyacke, Sarah | The Independent (London, England), September 7, 2001 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Obituary: Professor Paul Hair


Tyacke, Sarah, The Independent (London, England)


PAUL HAIR, Professor of Modern History at Liverpool University from 1979 to 1990, was something of a polymath: an innovative and wide-ranging historian of British social history, of Portuguese and British West Africa, an ethno-linguistic historian as well as an expert on world exploration and encounter.

He was thus a natural choice to be President of the Hakluyt Society in 1992, as that society exists to advance an understanding of world history and of people's encounters with each other, through the publication of voyages and travels undertaken by individuals from all parts of the world to the unknown. He was himself a traveller and also had a fine sense of humour; he used to say that as an intergalactic explorer he would have been quite at home on the starship Enterprise.

Born in Amble, Northumberland, in 1926, Hair won an open major scholarship to St John's College, Cambridge, from where he graduated in History in 1949, and was then appointed Student Bursar for Nuffield and Balliol colleges, Oxford. Between 1953 and 1965 he researched and taught at Ibadan University, Nigeria, in Sierra Leone and in the Sudan, before joining the History Department at Liverpool University in 1965.

He began his career, as he put it, as a 19th-century social historian "digging out all extant primary sources and examining them in detail, a `more-and-more-on-less-and-less' exercise". His DPhil thesis, supervised by G.D.H. Cole, had been on the social history of coalminers and was perhaps the result of Hair's time as a Bevin boy down the mines where he did his National Service. He then moved on to tackle violent death in the medieval period and fostered a database project on Cheshire parish records with colleagues at Manchester University.

His early years in Nigeria had opened his eyes to the importance of anthropology and linguistics to historical research and to the necessity of an African history as distinct from the "imperial" historical tradition about Africa's past which then held sway. However, Hair was rightly sceptical of what later passed for African history when it ignored European written sources as, biased though they must be, they are the best source which survives for five and half centuries of African history.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Obituary: Professor Paul Hair
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?