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Winter Conference – The Life and Works of Professor Alun Howkins (1947–2018) – Saturday 7 December 2019

Room 828, University College London (UCL) Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL
[Note the change of location! The main reception is on level 4. You can take the lift or stairs in Core A or Core B to reach the eighth floor and room 828.]
The death of Professor Alun Howkins in July 2018 deprived modern British rural history of one of its most prominent and charismatic academics. A long-standing member of the BAHS Executive Committee, Alun also served as the Society President between 2010 and 2013. His interests and publications were broad, cutting across disciplinary boundaries and historical approaches, but his central commitment was always to the history of the modern British countryside and the men and women who lived and worked there. This one-day conference will be a celebration of his life and works. The papers will address various themes that were important to Alun’s work: the nature of rural protest and its various meanings, the significance and place of song, the labour workforce on asylum and psychiatric farms and the use of oral history to rural and agricultural historians. There will also be a round table that will address the influence of Alun’s work on rural gender, political and public history.


Alun Howkins
10.30 Carl Griffin
(University of Sussex)
‘Reading protest: our window on rural workers' worlds in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’
11.30 Vic Gammon
(University of Newcastle)
‘“… anything which strikes a musician’s fancy”: Alun Howkins, song and history’
12.30 LUNCH
1.30 Sarah Holland
(University of Nottingham)
‘Psychiatry and farming: labouring lives on asylum and hospital farms, c.1850–1950’
2.30 Sue Bradley
(Kings College London and
University of Newcastle)
‘Oral history: its place, significance and value in, to and for rural and agricultural historians’
3.30 TEA
3.45 Round table To include contributions from Clare Griffiths (Cardiff University), Karen Sayer (Leeds Trinity University) and Nicola Verdon (Sheffield Hallam University).

For further information about the conference programme please contact organisers Karen Sayer ( or Nicola Verdon (


Please assume that, if you received the confirmation email from us, we have received your registration. Once booking has closed we will send everyone who has booked an email which will remind you of the date and include any changes to the programme.