Keble History book finally finished

A book begun in 1950 by former Keble History don Douglas Price, has just been published, 61 years after the book was first commissioned, and over a decade after the author’s death.

A contract to edit the volume, entitled English Historical Documents 1558-1603, was issued to Price by the printing firm Eyre & Spottiswoode in 1950. However, Price had still not finished the book by the 1970s. He died on Christmas Day 1999.

A Keble history alumnus who was taught by Price in the 1970s told Cherwell, “Its lateness was a running joke in the 1970s when Price taught me.”

Dr Ian Archer, the current tutor in Early Modern History at Keble, undertook the task to bring his predecessor’s project to fruition. The book, covering the reign of Elizabeth I, was published by Routledge in June. Dr Archer says of the book, “It fills a gap in a series which is still in use by students.”

In his preface to the completed volume, Dr. Archer writes: “When I approached Taylor & Francis, the publishers to which the series had descended, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the EHD project was still very much alive, as they were in the process of commissioning volumes to fill the gaps; they were very keen to see it in print, and I accepted their invitation to edit it.”

Price left his entire estate to Keble when he died, and the naming of Café Keble, otherwise known as the Douglas Price Room, is a testament to his contribution to the College. Born in 1915, he was an undergraduate at Keble in the 1930s, and after his first degree went on to read for a B.Litt. In 1949 he returned as a history tutor and stayed at Keble until his retirement in 1982. He was Dean between 1950 and 1962.

Dr Archer adds, “[Douglas Price’s] diaries reveal that he worked intermittently on the EHD volume, but he was all too easily diverted into college affairs, and the project stalled when he became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of his transcriptions and proved unable to make the cuts the publisher required.”

“Douglas was an example of one of those old-style bachelor dons whose energies were engrossed by undergraduate teaching and the minutiae of college administration. It was a different era and the pressures to do research were less.”