Swansea University Centenary Celebrations for Neville Masterman

Over 60 people attended Swansea University’s centenary celebrations for historian Neville Masterman, who taught in the History Department from the 1940s to the 1970s.

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Neville Masterman 7 Dec 2012Neville was born on 28 November 1912 in London. His father Charles Frederick Gurney Masterman (1873 – 1927) was a British Liberal Party Politician and journalist who served under Prime Minister Asquith as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster between 1914 -1915.

Interested in nineteenth century British and European politics – Christian Socialism, the Liberal Party and national aspirations among much else, Neville taught in Budapest before the Second World War, learnt Hungarian and wrote extensively on Hungarian literature, history and politics; Neville now resides in Swansea.

The celebrations took place in the Council Chamber, Singleton Abbey.  Professor Kenneth O. Morgan introduced events, recalling the years he himself spent as a colleague of Neville Masterman – including sharing a room with him in the Abbey. Kenneth Morgan then reminded those present of some of the important contributions Neville Masterman has made to the study of History.

Professor Morgan was followed by Professor Chris Williams who gave a lecture which skilfully knitted together aspects of Neville’s own career with his academic interests in British and Hungarian history. A presentation was also made by the Swansea Branch of the Historical Association of which Neville was once secretary.

To conclude the afternoon, the University presented Neville with an updated bibliography of his own writings and broadcasts, made possible by donations from friends and well-wishers; the remaining funds will be used to establish an award for a student working in nineteenth century British and European History.

Neville’s achievements were also recognised by the Ambassador of Hungary, who sent a formal letter of greeting and congratulations, and Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest where he began his scholarly career. The connection has also prompted a visit from the Hungarian Cultural Institute, Londonwho will be visiting Swansea soon to meet with Dr Law to discuss future cultural collaborations.

The event was organized by Dr John Easton Law, Reader in the Department of History and Classics at Swansea University, and a colleague of Neville in the 1970s. He ended the formalities by congratulating Neville on his centenary and by rehearsing some of the tributes paid to him from Britain and Hungary. He also thanked those in attendance, those well-wishers who could not attend and the University for their support.

The Neville Masterman fund remains open, and those wishing to contribute should contact Dr John Law, Department of History and Classics: J.E.Law@swansea.ac.uk.


Response published at the request of Neville C. Masterman - 3/1/13

Since you were good enough to show some interest in my 100th birthday I would be grateful if you would publish a letter from me expressing thanks to those who enabled a celebration of my centenary to take place.

First of all I would like to thank Professor John Spurr and Swansea University, of which I was once a member of staff, for providing an excellent room in the Abbey and the accompanying refreshments.

Secondly Dr John Law whose energy, enthusiasm and vision enabled such a celebration to take place. It was he who notified the many colleagues, friends and relatives of this event and invited them to attend. He organised the two speakers who played the leading roles, and with the help of Clive Towse, who had already compiled my bibliography, Dr Law arranged to have this bound as a handsome volume to raise funds for an essay prize, through the sale of these volumes.

I would also like to thank Helen Baldwin and Dr. Elaine Canning from the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities who played an invaluable role in helping Dr. Law with these arrangements.

I greatly enjoyed this event, especially seeing people who I had not seen for sometime, and was very flattered by the praises heaped on me by Lord Morgan, to whom in my speech I offered my thanks. However I was so overwhelmed by all this attention that I feel I did not offer proper thanks to the other people I've mentioned here, and others who also helped. Hence I am writing this letter in the hope that by doing so I will be making amends for my neglect in this respect.
Neville C. Masterman