Professor A H Halsey

Sue Lawley's castaway this week is the sociologist and Oxford Emeritus Professor A H Halsey. Prof Halsey played a key part in the switch to comprehensives as an adviser to Labour Education Secretary Anthony Crossland in the 1960s. Born in 1923 to working class parents he grew up convinced that intelligence wasn't dependent on class. Chelly, as Halsey was universally known, won a scholarship to grammar school but started his career inauspiciously as a sanitary inspector's apprentice, where he became intimately acquainted with such delights as the putrid lungs of diseased cattle. During the war he trained as a fighter pilot and perfected the 'aerial handbrake turn' that would keep him out of the way of the Japanese Kamikaze pilots. It was practising this manoevre that very nearly cost him his life as his plane took a nose dive, recovering only yards from the ground.

After the war he went to the LSE and on to make a name for himself in the rapidly expanding discipline of sociology, and for some 40 years has held a professorship at Nuffield College, Oxford. Along the way he's taken on the grammar school system, the class system, the establishment and feminism. As he turns eighty, he talks to Sue Lawley about his life and times.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: Benedictus by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Book: Utopia by Thomas Moore
Luxury: Solar-powered radio

Release date:

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 9 May 2003 09:00


Role Contributor
PresenterSue Lawley
Interviewed GuestProfessor A H Halsey

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