Obituary: Professor James Joll

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The Independent Online
MAY I add to Sir Michael Howard's excellent obituary about James Joll (18 July)? writes Hartmut Pogge von Strandmann.

When graduate schools were expanding rapidly in British universities from the 1950s a large number of history graduates from America, the Continent and Britain turned to analyse Europe's pre-1914 and inter-war history. James Joll was one of those supervisors who were uniquely equipped to offer expert advice, encouragement and enthusiasm to a whole army of graduate students. Keen on the development of new ideas, new interpretations and new approaches to the study of history, he enjoyed lively discussions with graduates. Through his European history seminars and lectures which covered topics from intellectual and diplomatic history he stimulated wide-ranging debates among his graduates, especially at St Antony's College, where his personal interest in German, French, Italian and British history provided an umbrella for the merging West European Studies Centre.

When he left Oxford for the LSE in 1967 his followers in Oxford felt the loss but understood his move. Had his later campaign for a return to Oxford succeeded, no one would have been welcomed more enthusiastically by the graduates in recent European history.

His loyal support for his graduates did not end with writing numerous references. He kept in touch with most of them and maintained a huge correspondence, answering the many letters he received virtually by return of post.