Oxford and Adult Education

  • Roger Fieldhouse


Raymond Williams is usually associated with Cambridge, but he spent 15 years as an Oxford University adult education tutor from 1946 to 1961. His adult education activities began even earlier, in 1939, at the age of 17 or 18, as a lecturer for the League of Nations. Then, after obtaining his degree at Cambridge, interrupted by war service, Williams approached the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) Eastern District to offer his services as a tutor in English and current international affairs. He enjoyed considerable success with a class in the Fens consisting mainly of agricultural workers, and later in giving single talks at various places in East Anglia, ‘earning great praise from the WEA branch members.1


Trade Union Communist Party Adult Education Gold Coast Social Democrat 
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  1. 2.
    Oxford, application and appointment, and H. P. Smith to Williams, 6 August 1946; Raymond Williams, Politics and Letters: Interviews with New Left Review (London: New Left Books, 1979) pp. 12, 78.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Oxford, Jacques to Smith, 18 July 1946. It was from Barnstaple that Williams sent his application to Oxford. The novel Williams worked on while living in Barnstaple was Brynllwyd, the first version of Border Country. See J. McIlroy, ‘Border Country: Raymond Williams and Adult Education’, Studies in the Education of Adults, vol. 22, no. 2(1990) pp. 129–66, at p. 131.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    R. Fieldhouse, Adult Education and the Cold War (Leeds University, 1985) p. 1.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    Fieldhouse, Adult Education and the Cold War, pp. 5–28. For similar activities in North America, see M. Welton, ‘Conflicting Visions, Divergent Strategies: Watson Thompson and the Cold War Politics of Adult Education in Saskatchewan 1944–46’, Labour/Le Travail, vol. 18 (1986) pp. 111–38, and M. Law, ‘Adult Education, McCarthyism and the Cold War’, unpublished paper presented to the Adult Education Research Conference, Calgary, May 1988 (obtainable from the Kellogg Project, Syracuse University, NY).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 44.
    R. Fieldhouse, ‘Insecurity of Tenure and Academic Freedom in Adult Education: An Historical Perspective’, Journal of Educational Administration and History, vol. 19, no. 1(1987) pp. 36–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Roger Fieldhouse 1993

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  • Roger Fieldhouse

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