Chris Williams obituary


My good friend Chris Williams, who has died of a coronary heart assault aged 61, was a historian of Wales and its radical traditions who rose to be head of the college of historical past, archaeology and faith at Cardiff College after which head of Celtic research and social sciences at College Faculty Cork. He additionally wrote about Welsh historical past, together with in his guide Democratic Rhondda (1996), however was maybe finest identified for his modifying of the posthumous diaries of the Welsh actor Richard Burton.

His 2012 version of the diaries didn’t please those that needed them to incorporate solely tittle-tattle: sometimes, Chris aimed to make sure that Burton’s life and background have been totally defined and contextualised; it was the work of an actual scholar.

Chris was born in Newport, in Gwent, to Josephine (nee Rogers), a music trainer, and Peter, a financial institution supervisor. He went to Churchfeld faculty in Swindon (now often known as the Garden Manor academy) earlier than becoming a member of the military with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment. However he disliked the navy life and left after a 12 months to check fashionable historical past at Balliol Faculty, Oxford, by which era his politics have been already of the left. At Oxford he met Siobhan McClelland, one other Balliol historian; they married in 1985, had a son, Harri, and Chris additionally turned a father to Philip, Siobhan’s son from a earlier relationship.

After Oxford Chris took a doctorate at Cardiff College underneath the cultural historian Dai Smith, whose imaginative, wide-ranging interpretation of Welsh tradition and historical past profoundly influenced him.

His first job, in 1986, was as an affiliate lecturer on the Open College, after which he briefly turned a lecturer at Coleg Harlech, an grownup training school in Gwynedd, earlier than transferring to Cardiff College in 1988, rising to be a senior lecturer there. He remained at Cardiff till 2001, after which he was a sociology professor on the College of Glamorgan (2001-04) and Swansea College (2005-13) earlier than returning to Cardiff. In 2017 Chris moved to College Faculty Cork, the place he remained till his dying.

Chris’s different books included Capitalism, Neighborhood and Battle: the South Wales Coalfield, 1898-1947 (1998), and Labour Occasion in Wales 1900-2000 (2001), which he co-edited. He was additionally a co-editor of, and a contributor to, volumes 4 and 5 of The Gwent County Historical past (2009 and 2011).

His pursuits have been vast, additionally together with the historical past of mountaineering and political cartoons. He leaves unfinished books on each topics together with an incomplete examine of Newport within the nineteenth century.

Chris was a person of nice heat and enjoyable, a loyal good friend and remarkably down-to-earth.

His marriage to Siobhan resulted in divorce in 1993. He’s survived by his second spouse, Sara (nee Spalding), whom he married in 2003, and their two sons, Samuel and Owen, and by Harri and Philip.


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