Richard Hoggart, British Academic, Dies at Age 95


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Richard Hoggart, a prominent British cultural historian and an important witness in the court case that ended British censorship of Lady Chatterley's Lover died Thursday at a nursing home in London. He was 95 years old.

Hoggart, a university lecturer at the time, defended D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover in a trial in London in 1960, calling the novel "highly virtuous and, if anything, puritanical." In the end, the jury found the book not obscene. It was a landmark case regarding censorship and free expression.

Hoggart's classic, The Uses of Literacy, published in 1957, portrayed urban working-class life in the 1920s and 1930s, and how it was affected by mass media and the influence of American culture. In the book, Hoggart argued that the working classes deserved better in educational and cultural terms than society provided for them.

He passed away after suffering for many years from senile dementia.

Hoggart's son, journalist Simon Hoggart, died of cancer in January.

He grew up in Leeds with a working-class background, and became an orphan at the age of eight.

Hoggart spent his life advocating against popular consumerism, and described it as "the corrupt brightness of mass entertainments."

In his long career, he Hoggart served with the Royal Artillery in North Africa and Italy, and went on to become a professor of English at Birmingham University, assistant director general of Unesco, and vice-chairman of the Arts Council.

He also founded the Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies which influenced academic interest in cultural and media studies around the world.

Hoggart was also a party behind the Pilkington Committee on broadcasting, which led to the founding of BBC Two.

He refused knighthood and a peerage.

Hoggart died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday morning in a north London nursing home. He is survived by his wife, who lives in the same nursing home.

Image via Wikimedia Commons