1939 - Asa Briggs

Scope and Content

The series contains administrative correspondence and notices, a copy of the winning essay, and newspaper cuttings.

Administrative / Biographical History

Asa Briggs won the Universities' Essay Prize whilst a student at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He graduated in 1941 with a BA (Arts) as well as a BSc in Economics from the University of London's Open Programme. He served in the Intelligence Corps working at Bletchley Park during World War II. After the war, he pursued an academic career at Oxford, Princeton, Leeds, Sussex, Oxford again and the Open University. In the 1976 Birthday Honours, he was created a life peer as Baron Briggs, of Lewes in the County of East Sussex. Between 1961 and 1995, Briggs wrote a five-volume text on the history of broadcasting in the UK from 1922 to 1974, essentially, the history of the BBC, who commissioned the work. Briggs' other works ranged from an account of the period that Karl Marx spent in London to the corporate history of British retailer Marks and Spencer. In 1987, Lord Briggs was invited to be President of the Brontë Society, and was also President of the William Morris Society from 1978 to 1991 and President of the Victorian Society (UK) from 1986 until his death.

He died at home in Lewes at the age of 94 on 15 March 2016.


The material was arranged thus:

  • RAS UPE/8/1 - Administrative correspondence
  • RAS UPE/8/2 - Essay
  • RAS UPE/8/3 - Newspaper Cuttings

Related Material

In the Council Minutes of the Society for 8 December 1938, it was recorded that the Committee for the Universities Prize Essay Competition had been appointed and the Minutes for 12 January 1939 note the essay titles had been selected. In the Minutes for the 11 April 1939 it was resolved that all past winners of the prize could receive their diplomas on the new form if they so desired and in the Minutes for 9 May 1939, two past winners had received these diplomas. In the Minutes for 10 October 1939, it was recorded that two essays had been received which had been sent to the Committee for adjudication and in the Minutes for 12 December 1938 it was recorded that the prize had been won by Mr. Asa Briggs and that a new Committee had been appointed for the next year's prize.