Obituary: Mary Lobel

Mary Doreen Rogers, historian and editor: born 25 June 1900; OBE 1990; married 1927 Edgar Lobel (died 1982); died Banbury 1 December 1993.

MARY LOBEL, the local historian, who died at the age of 93, was one of the last of a redoubtable generation of women.

Mary Rogers - Roddy as she was later known - was born into a Bristol family, well enough off, suffragists to a man, in 1900. One sister was an actress who became a Poor Clare nun partly because of how actresses were treated.

Educated at Clifton Girls High School, Rogers did some vacation work helping W. E. Crum with his Coptic Dictionary. At Crum's house she caught the eye of the visiting Edgar Lobel, the papyrologist and future editor of Greek lyric poetry, even in youth exigeant as a companion. His friends in the much larger world that he knew in the First World War were surprised to have a schoolgirl preferred to them. Undergraduate years at St Hugh's College, Oxford, were largely devoted to cricket; but her true vocation appeared in her B Litt thesis, on the town of Bury, which resulted in one of the first scholarly books on local history.

A short period of teaching in Norwich was followed by some 50 years in Oxford in a marriage to Lobel, which, unconventional by present-day standards, seemed to suit the partners well enough. He usually dined in his college, Queen's, to save 'my lamb', as he touchingly called her, from having to prepare a proper meal. They were invariably together for walks, bicycle rides, and holidays in English or Welsh counties. A medieval house in Merton Street stood still for the same period, visited occasionally by the Gilbert Murrays, the Michael Sadleirs, and various historians.

For Roddy Lobel made her own life in the Victoria County History of Oxfordshire and was accepted also into Somerville College, as a librarian, work cheerfully contributed for, at most, a pittance - and in fact she often made donations to permit the publication of what she had worked on. A comment on this, as on any physical discomfort, would be brusquely put aside ('What do you mean?'), while any suggestion of shirking a duty or fudging a piece of work would earn a glacial reception. Even fellow editors (who usually loved her) would sometimes have wished to escape from her lucid explanations of what was expected from them.

She was a lively and amusing companion into advanced old age, a mark of her selflessness, and bore Lobel's final physical decline well. She rallied under widowhood following his death in 1982, making new friends at Halifax House, the university's club for visiting scholars.

Her main work in later life was the three volumes of the Atlas of Historic Towns, produced (with Col WH Johns's mapping techniques that she so much admired) to a standard other countries find it hard to match. The international side of this brought travel back into her life. London, the flower of cities all, and certainly of this series, appeared shortly before her 90th birthday and her well-earned OBE. Then she too had to know decline: a singular sweetness of character remained when all else had gone. She is (one used to think) what England was.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker