Howkins, Alun (4 of 17). Oral History of Oral History
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2008-03-03, 2009-04-21, 2009-06-11, 2009-07-30, 2009-10-08, 2009-10-29, 2009-12-10, 2010-04-22, 2010-11-17, 2011-08-15
Howkins, Alun, 1947- (speaker, male)
Wilkinson, Robert (speaker, male)
Part 4: Pat St John and Nancy Montague would encourage his reading. Nancys husband Larry was on the list and sent the family to the US in case the Germans won. Nobody from the university really came to Pats. Nancy had family in Oxford and came back after her husband died; she was related to Kenneth Bell, later Bishop of Chichester. Aged 17 or 18 he was well read and looked down on most undergraduates. Met Pat St John through Meg Montague and Johnny Weston aged around 16. Lots of people at Pergamum wanted to be writers. [04:55] In 1966 he met Lavinia, Vin, who came from an upper middle class, Jewish background, she was expelled from school, travelled to Israel, then got a job with Maxwell in London with Derek Morrell. Her father, David Nenk had died. He was in British Intelligence during the war then became an important government civil servant. A grandson looked him up in the national archives and discovered anti-Semitic reports of him from the 1950s. Vin and her sister, Jane, both went off the rails. Derek Morrell was Nenks No 2 and promised to keep an eye on the girls and did for the rest of his life. He got Vin the job with Maxwell. They started a relationship and had a son Ben in 1967, he was 20 she was 22. They lived in two rooms in Kingston Rd. She had some money but gave up work. Derek Morrell was a religious Anglican but moving toward Rome, they had a long correspondence about this. John Newsome was director of Longman Green and company, Derek sent a letter to the head of personnel and got him a copywriting job in Harlow. [10:17] A 3 bedroom house in Rectory Wood came with the job. They married in June 1967 to ensure they got the house. [11:14 17:48 closed until 6th November 2032] Derek recommended he take a course in childcare at Ruskin in order to channel his frustrations, Derek gave him a reference. At the interview with Billy Hughes he relayed the story and got into an argument, he was rejected from the course but surprisingly offered a place on the University Diploma in Social Sciences. This had a mandatory grant from the D of E which was higher and almost as much as his wage. In 1968 he started a course in social and political sciences. In Harlow he met lots of interesting people involved in the arts and was more intellectually stimulated.
Life story interview with Alun Howkins, Emeritus Professor of History at University of Sussex and agricultural historian and folklorist.