To mark the announcement this morning that Tony Benn, the veteran Labour politician, has died at the age of 88, this blog-post highlights material held in the College Library which may be of interest to those who wish to find out more about his life and thought.
Benn was no stranger at Nuffield College; he spoke at Nuffield’s Friday Media and Politics Seminar a number of times (most recently in 2009), and also visited the College in order to take part in interviews with David Butler as part of the Nuffield College Oral History Project. In these interviews he spoke at length about his well-known campaign to renounce his hereditary peerage. Benn’s attempts to relinquish his peerage (which prevented him from sitting in the House of Commons) were instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act of 1963. His wife, Caroline Benn, was also interviewed by Butler speaking about the peerage case, as well as about her relationship with Tony.
Those wishing to learn more about the peerage case are very welcome to contact the library (firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange to consult the papers of the Oral History Project, kept in Nuffield College Library’s archive. In addition, the library holds copies of all of Benn’s diaries (which he kept from a very early age, and wrote in daily from 1964 – the year in which Harold Wilson’s Labour government came to office – onwards). These can be found on the third floor, under shelfmark DA 591.B36.
We also have available a number of his political writings including:
Parliament, people, and power: agenda for a free society: interviews with the New Left Review (1982) – HX 243.B
Arguments for socialism (1979) – JN 231.B
Common sense: a new constitution for Britain (1993) – KD 3989.B