A.H. (Chelly) Halsey

On the eve of his memorial service on Saturday 16th May we have been looking back at Chelly Halsey’s incredibly varied life and career, picking out key moments and publications as they relate to his academic and personal experiences.

No Discouragement is far more than the story of A.H. ‘Chelly’ Halsey – sanitary inspector’s apprentice, wartime airman, sociology student, academic-at-large, Oxford professor and, above all, Christian socialist” is how Roy Hattersley introduces the reader to Chelly’s enthralling autobiography.  He goes on to explain that “It describes the life and times of a man who typifies an almost extinct species….working-class boys, reared in the ‘culture of respectability’, who go on to achieve great academic distinction…Halsey retains the values of his childhood and expresses them without embarrassment”.


Chelly history of sociology


The Library holds many of Chelly’s other key works, including the eleven volumes of his published papers and book reviews from 1952-2005 (Nuf.Halsey (q)), ‘Change in British society’ (HN 390.H), ‘A history of sociology in Britain : science, literature, and society’   (HM 22.G7.H), ‘Education, economy, and society : a reader in the sociology of education’ (HM 32.H) and ‘Twentieth-century British social trends’ (HN 389.H).


Change in Br Soc 3 Change in Br Soc 2 Change in Br Soc 1


Family was always central to Chelly’s life and work, something reflected keenly in his autobiography ‘No discouragement’ (HM 22.G7.H) and ‘Changing childhood : a history of the Halsey family to 2009’ (Nuf.Halsey).  As he wrote in his autobiography “I can’t pretend to be calmly objective about my family and I can’t remember ever feeling anything but fiercely defensive about them… my instinct from an early age was to protect and defend my kin”.


Changing childhood, Chelly


Possibly of more personal interest to Nuffield members and alumni are his two works ‘Policy and politics : essays in honour of Norman Chester’ (JN 301.B) edited by himself & David Butler and ‘Essays on the evolution of Oxford and Nuffield College’ (LF 659.55.H).  Chelly first came to Oxford in 1962 as Director of Barnett House (Department of Social and Administrative Studies) and Fellow of Nuffield College.  He maintains in his autobiography that “Nuffield was undoubtedly the college leader of sociology in Oxford but, equally, Barnett House, linked to social policy and social work, was the university centre for sociological teaching and research”.  A perfect blend for a man who, in his own words, “was almost religiously devoted to the idea of spreading sociology as a mode of understanding the modern world”!


Chelly & Butler Chelly essays Oxford Nuffield


On 4th May 2003, Chelly appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.  There is a link to the recording here, http://bit.ly/BBCDesertIslandDiscs, where you can listen to him talking to Sue Lawley about his fascinating life and times, hear his musical choices and find out what his chosen record, book and luxury were!

There are some lovely personal memories of Chelly from various Nuffielders in the Hilary 2015 Nuffield Newsletter.

The memorial service for Chelly will take place at St Mary the Virgin, University Church, (High Street, Oxford) on Saturday 16 May, 2:15 until 3:15 pm.

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