READER, Dr William Joseph, 1920-1990, historian

Scope and Content

Papers of William Joseph Reader, [1970-1990], including research material for business histories written by Reader, notably notebooks containing references, files of notes relating to the company and the themes of the history, and printed company material for businesses including Grand Metropolitan, Philips and Drew, Macadam, Napier and Son, Huntingate, Bowater, the Institute of Electrical Engineers, Metal Box, Unilever, the Weir Group, Foster Braithwaite and ICI; notes for history books on the First World War and the Victorian era; audio cassettes of interviews for business histories; lecture notes, seminar papers and correspondence regarding Reader's work for the Business History Unit, LSE.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in 1920; educated at Taunton School and Jesus College, Cambridge University; served World War Two, 1939-1945, in India and Burma with the Royal Signal Corps; research assistant to Charles Wilson during the writing of Wilson's history of Unilever, 1947-1954; worked for Unilever, 1950-1964, in advertising, market research and public relations; began career as a historical writer; left Unilever in 1964 to write a history of ICI, which was published in 1970 and 1795; wrote a series of business histories; Texaco Visiting Fellow, Business History Unit, London School of Economics and Political Science, 1979-1985; died 1990. Publications: Birds Eye: the early years (Walton on Thames, 1963); Imperial Chemical Industries: a history (Oxford University Press, London, 1970, 1975); Architect of air power: the life of the first Viscount Weir of Eastwood (Collins, London, 1968); Life in Victorian England (Batsford, London, 1964); Professional men: the rise of the professional classes in nineteenth-century Europe (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1966); Hard roads and highways: S.P.D. Ltd, 1918-1968 (Batsford, London, 1969); Unilever plantations (Unilever Ltd, London, 1961); The Weir Group: a centenary history (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1971).



Access Information

Closed until listed.

Other Finding Aids


Archivist's Note

Sources: Who's Who 1897-1996 (A & C Black, 1996); British Library On-Line Public Access Catalogue 97. Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is held by the donor and their heirs.

Custodial History

Given by the family in 1998.