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British academic Richard Hoggart dies at 95

Friday - 4/11/2014, 12:08pm  ET

ROBERT BARR
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) -- Richard Hoggart, a distinguished cultural historian and a significant witness in the court case that ended British censorship of "Lady Chatterley's Lover," has died at age 95.

His family announced that Hoggart died Thursday at a nursing home in London.

The trial in 1960, which ended with the jury finding that D.H. Lawrence's novel was not obscene, was a landmark for free expression at the outset of London's "swinging sixties."

Hoggart, then a university lecturer, defended the work as "highly virtuous and, if anything, puritanical."

Challenged by a lawyer who read extracts from "Lady Chatterley" with one "f---" after another, Hoggart responded: "We have no word in English for this act which is not either a long abstraction or an evasive euphemism, and we are constantly running away from it, or dissolving into dots, at a passage like that. He (Lawrence) wanted to say, 'This is what one does. In a simple, ordinary way, one f----,' with no sniggering or dirt."

Hoggart was born into a poor family in Leeds, northern England. His father died when he was 1 and his mother seven years later. Remembering his mother's struggles, he wrote: "When you have seen a woman standing frozen, while tears start slowly down her cheeks because a sixpence has been lost ... you do not easily forget."

He won a hardship grant to go to a grammar school, then a scholarship to Leeds University. He taught at Leicester University and later at Birmingham. In 1969 he was appointed an assistant director-general of UNESCO.

His monumental work was "The Uses of Literacy," published in 1957. It portrayed urban working-class life in the 1920s and 1930s, and how it was affected by mass media and the influence of America.

His judgment was that "the new mass culture is in some important ways less healthy than the often crude culture it is replacing."

Hoggart is survived by his wife, Mary; their son and daughter; and eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.


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