The Papers of Professor Sir Bernard Rowland Crick

Scope and Content

The collection comprises both personal and professional correspondence, papers relating to conferences which he attended and spoke at, papers of societies and associations, the records of the Political Association (which Bernard was Chairman of in the late 1960s) and the records of the British South Africa Conference (which he helped to establish in the 1990s), annotated typescript drafts of major texts, research papers and interview transcripts for the biography of George Orwell which was published in 1980, and personal and academic ephemera including his degree certificates and student essays.

Administrative / Biographical History

Bernard Rowland Crick was born in London 16th December 1929 to Harry Edgar Crick, an insurance officer, and Florence Clare Crick (nee Cook). He was one of three children including another son Kenneth Edgar Crick, and a daughter Joan Crick.

Bernard was educated at the Whitgift School in Croydon; University College London where he gained a first in Economics; and the London School of Economics, for his doctorate (1950-1952) on The Origins and conditions of the American Science of Politics.

Bernard then went to America and taught in a number of universities, including Harvard (1952-1954), McGill, Montreal (1954-1955), and Berkeley, California (1955-1956) before returning to the UK in 1956 and teaching at the LSE for the next 8 years as assistant lecturer, and later senior lecturer.

In 1965 he appointed Professor of political theory and institutions at Sheffield University, where one is his students included the Labour MP David Blunkett. One term was spent at the University of Ghana, as visiting Leverhulme Professor. Six years later he moved to Birkbeck College, University of London and became the foundation professor of politics at Birkbeck College in 1971.

Bernard sat on a number of committees including the British Association for American Studies, 1958-1963; the British Records Association, 1961-1964; founder member and joint secretary from 1964-1968 of the Study of Parliament group, Government and Social science committee, SSRC 1969-1973; Social Science Liaison Committee of the Standing Conference on University Entrance of the committee of University Vice-Chancellors, 1970-1980; Political Studies Association, 1963-1973, 1978-1981; Honorary president of the Politics association, 1970-1976 and later vice president of the PSA 1995-; Council of the Hansard Society 1959; Chairman of the joint steering committee of the Hansard Society and the Study of Parliament Group The Future of Parliamentary Institutions programme; Chief examiner for the University of London A-level British Government and Politics 1975-1981; C.N.A.A combined studies committee, 1978-1981; Council of institute for the study of Drug Dependence, 1978-1982; Joint editor of the Political Quarterly with W.A Robson, then John Mackintosh, then David Watt, 1965-1980; and thereafter chairman of the board. He was also a political advisor in the Northern Ireland Constitutional convention 1974, chairman of the British-South Africa Conference- 1991-1995, and chairman to the executive committee of the Edinburgh University Settlement.

In the early 1970s Crick embarked on a biography of George Orwell [Eric Blair] after being contacted by his second wife, Sonia Bronwell Orwell. He conducted numerous interviews with those who knew Orwell, and used the George Orwell archive at University College London.

In the early 1980s Sir Bernard Crick was part of the Number 10 Gower Street group think tank, which assisted with speech writing and policy development for Neil Kinnock and the Labour party.

Bernard Crick took early retirement in 1984 to live in Edinburgh. However, he later became the Chairman of the Advisory group on Education for Citizenship and the teaching of Democracy in Schools, 1997, after being approach by a former student at Sheffield University, David Blunkett. The report was published 1998. He later advised the Labour government on devising the citizenship tests for immigrants to the UK.

He was knighted in the 2002 new year honours list for "services to citizenship in schools and to political studies". He had started a book on The four nations but sadly did not complete these when he died 19th December 2008 at St Columbus Hospital Edinburgh.

Bernard was married three times, to Joyce Morgan in September 1953 with whom he had two sons Oliver and Thomas, then to Margaret Emily Cahill in 1978, then to Freda Edis in December 1989 whom he later separated from. He is survived by his partner Una Maclean Mackintosh and his two sons from his first marriage.


Most of the records were in filing cabinet drawers, and many of these were clearly labelled and most were in good order. Many of the labels were themselves written by Bernard Crick. However, some of the writing was made by others, and it is assumed that these were made by one of Bernards secretaries, particularly whilst he was at Birkbeck College, University of London. Mention of several secretaries is given in the collection, including Sarah V.D Priest (Secretary, 1972); Audrey Coppard (Assistant, 1980) and Joanne Robertson (Secretary, 1983).

The collection has been arranged to reflect the activities and interests of Bernard Crick and his extensive record keeping. Most files were in good order, with those records created largely after the year 2000 often in miscellaneous files which needed some arrangement into the main body of series created.

The collection has been arranged into 6 series.

CRCK 1 Family and Personal

CRCK 2 Correspondence and References

CRCK 3 Politics, Societies and Associations

CRCK 4 Tours and conferences

CRCK 5 Publications, Reviews and Media

CRCK 6 George Orwell biography

Access Information

By appointment.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Sir Bernard Cricks son and literary executor, Oliver H. Crick.

Other Finding Aids

A box list was initially completed by Sandra Marsh, Archivist (Crick Papers) October 2009 before the collection was arranged and catalogued in 2010.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The collection comprises mostly paper, and newspaper cuttings, with some photographs interleaved within files.

Archivist's Note

This collection level description was created by Sandra Marsh of Birkbeck College in December 2009 using information from Who Was Who (A and C Black, 1997), and the papers themselves.

Conditions Governing Use

At the discretion of the College Librarian at the present time.

Appraisal Information

The records were appraised once in the care of Birkbeck College. Personal childhood records of Bernard Cricks sons were returned to them, and copies of University College newspapers were destroyed. Many of the publications cuttings files had more than one copy in them and where this was the case only one copy was retained.

Custodial History

The papers were transferred from Sir Bernard Cricks residence in Edinburgh, where he had retired in 1984, after his death in December 2008.

The records originally comprised 4 filing cabinets, 13 large storage boxes which included box files, magazine racks and loose material, and a large metal trunk called 'Bernard Student Stuff'.