THE UNTIMELY death of Jane Morgan has cheated the academic world of a rare humanising influence. A historian by trade and criminologist by adoption, her intellectual qualities were surpassed only by her gifts of loyalty, humour and affection.
Born Jane Keeler, in Harrogate, of German and British parentage, she was taken by her widowed mother at an early age to live in Wrexham. In 1968 she began what was to be a long relationship with the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, reading history for a BA and Welsh history for her MA. In 1979 she gained an external Ph D from Leicester University. Her first book based on her Ph D thesis, a political biography of Lord Addison, was published in 1988 and was co-written with her husband Kenneth Morgan.
In 1987 Jane Morgan published Conflict and Order, a very fine study of the policing of labour disputes during the period 1900-39. This book is particularly impressive for the manner in which central-government involvement in operational policing is exposed, and years before it became an issue under Margaret Thatcher's government.
From 1985 to 1989 Morgan was a research fellow at the Centre for Criminological Research, Oxford University, and it was during this period that she began her research into child victims of crime. A book based upon this research and co-written by Lucia Zedner was published earlier this year to much acclaim. This groundbreaking study examines the manner in which incidental as well as direct victims of crime are treated by the criminal justice system, and should have an impact upon future public policy debates.
But no obituary should read like an edited curriculum vitae, least of all Jane Morgan's. A victim-support organiser and magistrate, she was devoted to her children, David and Katherine. Always involved in their lives, she dealt with the delicate balance between home and career, and coped with a rare grace. The chauvinism of both academe and the criminal justice system occasionally depressed, but never defeated her. It merely provoked an impish sense of humour which when combined with a finely tuned sense of the ridiculous gave her a rather more balanced view of the world than would normally be expected from an academic of her repute.
When Kenneth Morgan was appointed Principal of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 1989, Jane launched herself wholeheartedly into her new role both as a lecturer and as a high-profile representative of the University.
She was blessed with a rare combination of compassion and style. Visiting academics were fed, watered and entertained and at least one itinerant academic family was offered the Morgans' attic as a temporary home. She cared about people, helped those of us new to the profession, offering advice and support when obscure codified academic rituals loomed.
Jane Morgan achieved all this with real style and panache. In a profession that is so often dull and worthy, she stood out as a beacon of vitality and good taste. How she managed to pack so much into her short life is a wonder.