Papers of Henry Mathison Pelling

Scope and Content

Drafts of and notes taken for 'Churchill's peacetime ministry, 1951-55', research material on the history of the British Labour movement and the Communist Party of Great Britain, other notes, some diaries, cuttings, typescripts, letters, slides and ephemera.

Administrative / Biographical History

Pelling was born in the Wirral in 1920, the son of a stockbroker. He was educated at Birkenhead School and was elected to an open exhibition in classics at St John's College, which he entered in 1939. Pelling's studies were interrupted by war service, during which he was commissioned in the Royal Engineers, serving in Normandy and at the Battle for Berlin. Already awarded a BA in 1942 under war conditions, Pelling took his MA on his return to Cambridge in 1947 and was awarded a PhD in 1950. From 1949 to 1965 he was Fellow and Praelector of Queen's College, Oxford, and in 1966 returned to Cambridge, becoming a Fellow of St John's and director of research at the University history faculty. He was promoted to a readership in 1976.

Pelling's scholarly achievements centred on modern history and he became an authority on the labour movement. His best known works are 'The Origins of the Labour Party' (1954), 'Short History of the Labour Party' (1961), 'The History of British Trade Unionism' (1963), 'The Social Geography of British Elections' (1967) and 'Politics and Society in Late Victorian Britain' (1968). Pelling also wrote a biography of Winston Churchill (1974). His achievements were recognized in 1992 by his election to a Fellowship of the British Academy. Pelling died in 1997.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation

Note

Pelling was born in the Wirral in 1920, the son of a stockbroker. He was educated at Birkenhead School and was elected to an open exhibition in classics at St John's College, which he entered in 1939. Pelling's studies were interrupted by war service, during which he was commissioned in the Royal Engineers, serving in Normandy and at the Battle for Berlin. Already awarded a BA in 1942 under war conditions, Pelling took his MA on his return to Cambridge in 1947 and was awarded a PhD in 1950. From 1949 to 1965 he was Fellow and Praelector of Queen's College, Oxford, and in 1966 returned to Cambridge, becoming a Fellow of St John's and director of research at the University history faculty. He was promoted to a readership in 1976.

Pelling's scholarly achievements centred on modern history and he became an authority on the labour movement. His best known works are 'The Origins of the Labour Party' (1954), 'Short History of the Labour Party' (1961), 'The History of British Trade Unionism' (1963), 'The Social Geography of British Elections' (1967) and 'Politics and Society in Late Victorian Britain' (1968). Pelling also wrote a biography of Winston Churchill (1974). His achievements were recognized in 1992 by his election to a Fellowship of the British Academy. Pelling died in 1997.

Preferred citation: St John's College Library, Papers of Henry Mathison Pelling

Archivist's Note

25 May 2016

Additional Information

Published

Subjects