Richard Hoggart

Herbert Richard Hoggart FRSL (24 September 1918 – 10 April 2014) was a British academic whose career covered the fields of sociology, English literature and cultural studies, with emphasis on British popular culture.

Early life

Hoggart was born in the Potternewton area of Leeds, one of three children in an impoverished family. His father, a soldier, died when Hoggart was a year old, and his mother died when he was eight. He grew up with his grandmother in Hunslet, and was encouraged in his education by an aunt. He gained a place at Cockburn High School which was a grammar school, after his headmaster requested that the education authority reread his scholarship examination essay. He then won a scholarship to study English at the University of Leeds, where he graduated with a First Class Degree.[1] He served with the Royal Artillery during World War II and was demobilised as a Staff Captain.[2]


He was a Staff Tutor at the University of Hull from 1946 to 1959, and published his first book, a study of W. H. Auden's poetry, in 1951. His major work, The Uses of Literacy, was published in 1957. Partly autobiography, the volume was interpreted as lamenting the loss of an authentic working class popular culture in Britain, and denouncing the imposition of a mass culture through advertising, media and Americanisation.

He became Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Leicester from 1959 to 1962. Hoggart was an expert witness at the Lady Chatterley trial in 1960, and his argument that it was an essentially moral and "puritan" work, which merely repeated words he had heard on a building site on his way to the court,[3] is sometimes viewed as having had a decisive influence on the outcome of the trial.

While Professor of English at Birmingham University between 1962 and 1973, he founded the institution's Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in 1964 and was its director until 1969. Hoggart was Assistant Director-General of UNESCO (1971–1975) and finally Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London (1976–1984), after which he retired from formal academic life. The 'Main Building' at Goldsmiths has now been renamed the 'Richard Hoggart Building' in tribute to his contributions to the college.

Hoggart was a member of numerous public bodies and committees, including the Albermarle Committee on Youth Services (1958–1960), the Pilkington Committee on Broadcasting (1960–1962), the Arts Council of Great Britain (1976–1981) and the Statesman and Nation Publishing Company Ltd (1977–1981). He was also Chairman of the Advisory Council for Adult and Continuing Education (1977–1983), and the Broadcasting Research Unit (1981–1991), as well as a Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company (1962–1988).

In later works, such as The Way We Live Now (1995), he regretted the decline in moral authority that he held religion once provided and attacked contemporary education for its emphasis on the 'vocational' and 'cultural relativism' for its tendency to concentrate on the popular and meretricious.

One of his two sons was the political journalist Simon Hoggart, who predeceased him by three months, and the other is the television critic Paul Hoggart. He is also survived by a daughter, Nicola. In The Chatterley Affair, a 2006 dramatisation of the 1960 trial made for the digital television channel BBC Four, he was played by actor David Tennant.

In later life he suffered from dementia.[4] He died on 10 April 2014 at the age of 95.[2]



  1. Telegraph Richard Hoggart Obituary. Retrieved 12 April 2014
  2. 1 2 "Richard Hoggart obituary". The Guardian. 10 April 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  3. Hartley, J. (2009). The Uses of Digital Literacy. St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press. p. 2
  4. Hoggart, Amy (10 January 2014). "Simon Hoggart, my dad, was working, socialising and laughing to the end". The Guardian. London.
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