We were deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of Professor Angus Hawkins shortly before Christmas. His publications will be familiar to anyone working on 19th century politics, an area of study that he helped to refine and reshape over almost four decades. His arguments about ‘Parliamentary government’ and the formation of coalitions in the mid-Victorian era, his seminal two volume rehabilitation of Lord Derby, ‘the forgotten prime minister‘, and his magisterial Victorian Political Culture (2015) are just some of the many outstanding contributions to scholarship he leaves behind.
On a more personal note, Angus was an avid supporter of our 1832-68 House of Commons project – a resource he not only used and publicly praised but also contributed to as an external writer. His assessment of Derby (or Lord Stanley as he was then styled) as a politician in the reformed Commons, rather than as a PM, was completed for our 1832-68 volumes only a few months ago. With retirement looming, and his latest book projects out of the way, Angus was typically keen to carry out more work for us on the ‘Derby Dilly’ MPs, something that reflected his abiding fascination with the shifting (or ‘fissile’ and ‘mutable’ as he put it) nature of party affiliations in the post-reform era.
Alongside his prodigious written output, Angus was a popular and engaging presence at many conferences and seminars, particularly at UEA and the University of Oxford, where he ran the Research Centre in Victorian Political Culture based at Keble College. He was especially magnanimous in encouraging younger generations of scholars, many of whose dissertations he agreed to examine. Three of our 1832-68 section’s doctorates – my own and those of our PhD students Seth Thévoz and Martin Spychal – were among scores on 19th century history that benefitted from his diligence and expertise in a viva. A large number of subsequent monographs on Victorian politics, in a similar vein, also profited greatly from his wisdom and support. Our subject owes him a great debt.
Angus will be deeply missed as an outstanding historian, entertaining and generous friend and enthusiastic supporter of all things Victorian. A list of his major publications can be found here. There is also a tribute from Oxford’s Department for Continuing Education here.
Dr Philip Salmon