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Discrete CollectionsPolitics, economics and social science collections
TitleOakeshott; Michael Joseph (1901-1990); political scientist
Extent51 boxes
Admin Biographical HistoryMichael Oakeshott was born in Chelsfield, Kent, on 11 December 1901, the second of three sons of Joseph Francis Oakeshott, a civil servant and member of the Fabian Society, and his wife, Frances Maude Oakeshott (nee Hellicar). He was educated at St George's School Harpenden, a progressive co-educational school, and then read history at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge, graduating in 1923. He went on to study in Germany, including the universities of Marburg and Tubingen. He also worked briefly as an English teacher at Lytham St Anne's Grammar School. In 1925 he was elected/appointed Fellow of Gonville and Caius College. He enlisted as a gunner in the British Army in 1940 and by [1944] was in command of a squadron of GHQ Liaison ('Phantom') Regiment attached to the Canadian Second Army in Holland. He returned to Cambridge when the war ended in 1945. In 1949 he went to Oxford as a fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, and in 1951 he was appointed to the chair of political science at the London School of Economics. In the early 1960s he established a one-year Master's degree seminar at LSE on the history of political thought. He retired from LSE in 1969, although he continued to preside over the history of political thought seminars until his late seventies.
In 1927, he married Joyce Margaret Fricker. They had one son, Simon, born in 1931. The marriage was dissolved in 1938 and in the same year he married Katherine Alice Burton. They divorced in 1951. In 1965, Oakeshott married Christel Schneider. He died at his home in Acton, near Langton Matravers, Dorset, on 18 December 1990.
For further information see:
R Grant, 'Oakeshott', 1990
Dictionary of National Biography
For details on published work by or about Oakeshott, see:
John Liddington's bibliography in J Norman (ed.), 'The Achievement of Michael Oakeshott', 1993
Bibliographies collected by Shirley Letwin in 15/7/1 and 15/7/2
Bibliography on Michael Oakeshott Association Webpage at
Custodial HistoryAfter Oakeshott's death, the papers were moved from his cottage in Dorset to the London home of Shirley Letwin, Oakeshott's literary executor. The papers were used there by Letwin and Timothy Fuller, who both edited volumes of previously unpublished works by Oakeshott. Letwin also began work on a biography of Oakeshott, but died in 1993, before having completed the research for it.
Oakeshott's papers, along with Shirley Letwin's research papers on Oakeshott, remained in the care of Shirley Letwin's husband, William Letwin, until 1997, when they were deposited at the British Library of Political and Economic Scienc via Kenneth Minogue.
DescriptionPapers created by or collected by Michael Oakeshott, including manuscripts of both published and unpublished works; notebooks and notes; personal correspondence with colleagues and family; press cuttings; administrative papers relating to his education and career
Also includes papers relating to Oakeshott collected or created by Shirley Letwin and others, including research papers for Shirley Letwin's proposed biography of Oakeshott.
Related MaterialCollections held by the British Library of Political and Economic Science:
The following collections both contain files relating to Oakeshott:
London School of Economics Archives
Karl Popper (microfilm of papers at Hoover Institution, Stanford University)
The following collections both contain material relating to Oakeshott's father, Joseph Francis Oakeshott:
Fabian Society
Royal Economic Society
Further details can be found on the Archives Division database and in the relevant catalogues.
Collections in other repositories:
BBC Written Archives Centre: correspondence, 1935-1962, plus copies of talks.
National Sound Archive: recording of 'The Philosophy of History', 'The University Programme', 1948.
Cambridge University Library: correspondence with Sir Herbert Butterfield, 1950-1957.
Access StatusMainly open; some items closed
Copyright TypeCopyright is held by the Library
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