✎ Asa Briggs 1921-2016 

15 March 2016 tbs.pm/8824

If you aspire to be an historian of modern world history, you aspire to be Lord Asa Briggs, who has died aged 94.

He was an historian of the people for the people, as seen most clearly by his key role establishing the Open University, designed to bring higher education to the rest of us, knowing that a grasp of degree-level subjects should be available to anybody who wanted to have one, not to the rich or privileged to whom higher education was then, and sadly is now again thanks to the Liberal Democrats, handed down along with a birth certificate.

He spent the war years defending Britain and attacking the enemy via Bletchley Park, breaking codes and shortening the war by a probable 2 to 6 years.

His major contribution to our field has to be his four books charting the history of the BBC. Since his run finished, others have tried to match his attention to detail and love for the subject but have mostly failed, most recently Jean Seaton who followed his work with her own book that involved no research, no knowledge and no feeling for its subject at all – quite the reverse to Briggs, who may have died in order to kickstart the process of spinning in his grave at the very thought of Seaton ever being allowed near a word processor again.

He leaves 14 grandchildren and a huge hole in the academic life of the nation.

Historian Lord Asa Briggs dies, aged 94 [BBC News]

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3 responses to this article

Paul Mason 16 March 2016 at 1:25 am

I didnt know who he was as a child but his unusual name was on the credits for All Our Yesterdays, a Granada programme presented by Brian Inglis featuring the news of 25 years previously. From 1960 to 1972 it featured the years from 1935-1947 basicaply the run up to and slightly beyond World War II.

Ronnie MB 17 March 2016 at 1:03 am

He also wrote an excellent account of the 1982 ITV franchise round, appropriately called The Franchise Affair

Barbara Mackenzie 26 March 2016 at 11:39 am

Asa Briggs was a neighbour and a friend,as eager to check on the tadpoles in the pond as discuss and explain,to a numpty like me,the latest political ramifications at Westminster.

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