Bernard Porter

I’m not sure why I’ve started this blog. I don’t know how many people will read it, or become ‘followers’ (I have only two of those so far, and Kajsa had to be forced); and I’m not sure I care. It’s a way of getting certain things off my chest, I hope interestingly and stylishly. And of testing out ideas that I may later incorporate into books.

Anyway, here’s about me:

Photo on 2012-11-13 at 15.47

Academic historian, emeritus prof, author of many books, essayist, reviewer. Loving sambo (partner) of Kajsa Ohrlander, feminist and postmodernist academic. Living in Stockholm, Svartsö (an island in the Stockholm archipelago) and Hull, UK City of Culture 2017. Ex-wife Deirdre; three children, six grandchildren, two bonusbarn, and two bonusbarnbarn. Born in Hornchurch, Essex, but consider myself a Northerner by adoption; share all their prejudices against the South. Educated Ardleigh Green Primary, Brentwood School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Resigned Fellowship there because of its admissions policy. Taught at the universities of Hull (the best), Newcastle, Yale, Sydney, Stockholm and Copenhagen. Ex-set designer for dramatics. Ex-painter. Ex-lots of things, in fact, but rather worn out now. Academic areas: modern British imperialism, xenophobia and -philia, spooks, Victorian architecture. Politics: ‘Old’ Labour. Religion: agnostic. Favourite philosopher: Karl Marx. Favourite music: Haydn, Berlioz, Elgar, Billie Holliday, Duke Ellington, Brenda Lee, the Housemartins, Ray Charles. Literature: Shakespeare, Ursula le Guin. Favourite painters: Turner, Klee, Botticelli, Frank Hampson. Other heroes: Jesus Christ (the ‘echt’ one, shorn of the ‘Christianity’); Barbara Castle; Bobby Moore; Graham Gooch; Desmond Tutu. Other enthusiasms: architecture, especially old churches; travel (in comfort). Favourite foods: too many to name. Hence paunchy. Supporter of West Ham United and Essex County Cricket Club for 60+ years. Usually much more modestly bearded than in the pic. But just as depressed-looking.

Addendum: October 2016.

Since starting this blog I’ve been diagnosed – well, not exactly diagnosed, as there’s no test for it, but all the symptoms fit – with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, otherwise known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME); which is why I find it hard to get up in the mornings – I never used to – and why there’s no chance of my ever writing another book. This blog has now turned into a therapy for me, to keep my old mind active, without needing to do any hard work. I’m living off the fat I have built up over the course of the twelve books and dozens of scholarly articles I’ve published since 1968, and what I read in the papers. If I don’t write regularly I’ll fade into pleasant oblivion. There’s no need for you to read it.

ME used to be dismissed as an excuse for laziness. In my case I suspect it was triggered by a tick bite I got on Svartsö two years ago; the one that can give you Lyme disease. A dangerous country, Sweden.

bernard.porter@kajsa.karoo.co.uk

20 Responses to Bernard Porter

  1. James Butler says:

    Dear Professor Porter

    I was a student of yours 1997-2000. You were inspirational and taught me a lot. Your lectures and writing were always witty as well as thought-provoking. I have been recalling much of your courses during the last bumpy year: justifying why we should remain within the EU.

    Best wishes

    James

    Like

  2. Lucy Sheriff says:

    Hi Bernard,

    I am a 2nd year History Undergrad at Cardiff University, rather a baby in comparison to some of the other academics who have commented on here. I just wanted to say how much I love your blog, I wish more Historians did this! I too write a blog, and I know how exhilarating it can feel to put up a new post, or just make yourself heard. I am just starting my first extended essay on Early British Empire and your work ‘The Absentminded Imperialist’ was one of the first I came across. If you’re interested in chatting to a, quite frankly, inexperienced mind about your work I really would love to hear from you! I hope you are feeling better soon, and even if (as you said in this post) you don’t ever write another book, please do keep blogging! Kind (and slightly overexcited) regards, Lucy Sheriff.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gary Thorn says:

    Hello Bernard

    Just picked up your first book on Critics of Empire because I needed to know more about Liberal Imperialism for a chapter I am writing about Rev John Harris, for a book on British Campaigners against Portuguese Empire before WW1. Found it , still after all these years, one of the most informative sources on this theme. I wish you well for what I hope will be an improvement in your health, and I hope the fact that people like me have discovered your blog helps you appreciate that you are still very much part of our academic community. Your work is still much used, cited on the OU History courses that I teach, particularly A326 Empire, which you might care to look at sometime. Like you I am an Essex boy, currently residing in Halstead, attended at Upton Park as a boy, but have a lifelong allegiance to Man Utd I am afraid. Rumour at Colchester last year that we might stop using the ground for the Festival Week. Hope it is false.

    Very best wishes

    Gary Thorn

    Like

    • Many thanks, Gary. I’ll certainly look up the OU course. – I used to cycle all the way from Hornchurch to Colchester when I was a boy, to watch the cricket. That was in the days when Essex CCC travelled all over the county, with a double-decker bus converted into toilets.

      Like

  4. John Field says:

    A rousing good day to you, sir! Bravo for your idiosyncratic approach to this particular endeavor. I myself am an ex-academic (from long, long ago and far, far away) who once wrote a book (as I fell through the cracks of US liberal arts faculty reductions) that relates very much to some of your own concerns: *Toward A Programme of Imperial Life: The British Empire at the Turn of the Century*(1982). I’d love to be able to compare notes with you.

    Like

    • I think I reviewed your book, years ago! Where are you now? US? We must keep in touch.

      Like

      • homomirabilus says:

        I do believe that was the case; one of the few reviews I was able to locate then, and one I could appreciate. My wife and I reside in southeast Missouri, flyover country, Trump’s heartland. More’s the pity.

        On Wed, Dec 28, 2016 at 4:03 PM, Porter’s Pensées wrote:

        > bernardporter2013 commented: “I think I reviewed your book, years ago! > Where are you now? US? We must keep in touch.” >

        Like

  5. Lizzie Induni says:

    Hi Bernard,
    Thanks for replying – I was quite excited getting a response from someone whose book I am reading.
    I live in Taunton but am doing my PhD in Edinburgh at the ECA -the Scots being more enthusiastic about education generally, but also liking corrugated iron. Possibly something to do with their engineering heritage.
    I expect you will start seeing corrugated iron buildings wherever you go now; I know there are quite a lot in Iceland.
    Lizzie

    Like

  6. Lizzie Induni says:

    Dear Bernard,
    I have just started reading your book ‘The Battle of the Styles’. Mostly this is because I am doing a PhD in corrugated iron buildings, and it looked as if the book might be helpful in directing me as to why, as a nation. we hate corrugated iron buildings so much. Anyway I enjoyed the preface enormously, and your writing made you seem such an interesting person, that I thought i would come and look you up on the internet. And you are interesting! I will read more.
    I like Hull too. Culturally diverse, very friendly.
    Lizzie

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tony Judge says:

    Hello Bernard,
    Just seen your blog for the first time, and will continue to read it as we share so many views in common. I was born near Hornchurch (Gidea Park, the posh bit) and also support West Ham (since 1957-8. We were probably there each alternate Saturday in the ‘Chicken Run’ before my Dad got season tickets) and Essex CCC (at every ground in those days including Romford and Brentwood). I am also emeritus (US universities mainly) have had a long love affair with Scandinavia (since 1968 but I wont go into that) and will in Stockholm again this summer.. Didn’t go to Brentwood School though, but all the way on the bus to Sir George Monoux GS In Walthamstow which Doug Insole attended. Enormously enjoyed your recent book on imperialism and LRB pieces.
    Tony, London

    Like

  8. Chloe Mason says:

    Dear Bernard,
    I enjoy reading your pieces. I would have liked to have been able to respond more easily, as I tried, about your biological presumption worth revising in light of, well the enlightenment and more concretely, David Attenborough’s work on bower birds.
    What are you thinking, if anything about the UK Investigatory Powers Bill? And the open letter in the Guardian this week?

    Like

    • Hello Chloe, thanks. My ‘biological presumption’ are you referring to my point about ‘creativity’? I’ll check the bower bird! On our Snooper’s Charter I’ve posted a couple of things here, but not recently. Maybe in the next few days. I only like to write if I feel I have something different to say, and if the subject is within my expertise. – Also, I’ve not quite mastered this medium yet. I don’t know how to attract readers or responses. I’ll get my kids to help me!

      Like

      • Chloe Mason says:

        Chris Murray is spot on about your readership. I have forwarded a number of your pieces to friends. So with my thanks, Chloe

        Like

  9. Chris Murray says:

    People are reading it, and we’re glad it’s here.

    Like

  10. Chloe Mason says:

    Dear Bernard,
    Thanks for your blog.
    I’m just returning to your book Plots & Paranoia to say how much I appreciate your concise writing & further reading section. I’ll send you an email, hoping you’re interested. Chloe from Sydney

    Like

  11. Pingback: Res till London, för Guds skull! | Tribune

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s