OBITUARY:Stewart Oakley

Stewart Oakley was a leading member of that small group of academics working to promote our understanding of Scandinavia. He taught at the University of East Anglia for 15 years, and was a founding member and long-standing chairman of the Nordic History Group, formed to bring together academics and further the study of Scandinavia.

Oakley read history at Lincoln College, Oxford, graduating in 1952, and became a teacher at Highgate School. His passion for languages and history led, however, to his developing an interest in Swedish history and to the preparation of a PhD at the London School of Economics under the supervision of the distinguished European historian Ragnhild Hatton. This was followed by appointments at Exeter and Edinburgh Universities.

Although Oakley had already established his academic credentials, with his history of Sweden The Story of Sweden, before moving to the University of East Anglia in 1969 as a lecturer in history, it was during his years there in Norwich that he more fully developed an international reputation as a scholar. As well as numerous articles, appearing in a variety of languages, he published The Story of Denmark (1972). In 1987 there appeared a study of "William III and the Northern Crowns during the Nine Years' War 1689-1697" - substantial both in terms of its length and quality. War and Peace in the Baltic 1560-1790 was published in 1993. This book attracted critical acclaim because of the breadth of its author's knowledge - and the display of linguistic skills which very few could hope to emulate - and for his ability to analyse and clearly explain an extremely complicated series of historical events. It is the work of a professional historian at the height of his powers.

In recent years, while continuing to work on the political history of the Baltic region, Oakley had also engaged in pioneering research on the very different subject of the Scandinavian peasant, leading to the publication of a number of articles, and first among them, in 1981, a study of "The Geography of Peasant Eco-types in Pre-Industrial Scandinavia". We can only be dismayed that he did not have time to complete the two important books he was writing - a biography of Gustavus III, king of Sweden in the late 18th century, and a comparative study of the pre-industrial peasantry of Scandinavia.

Stewart Oakley shared with Kate Kalbag, his partner for the past five years, a love of music, of gardening and of good food. His work at UEA until his retirement as Reader in 1994 says a great deal about his conscientious approach to life, about his commitment to his students, and about his intellect and his zest for life. As a teacher he was highly effective, always knowledgeable and able to convey his great enthusiasm for history. The range of his teaching was exceptional. Above all, perhaps, both students and colleagues will remember his kindness and his willingness to devote time and energy to helping them.

Roger Price

Stewart Philip Oakley, historian: born Kenton, Middlesex 21 April 1931; Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, Department of History, University of East Anglia 1969-84; Chairman, Nordic History Group 1977-95; married 1956 Helen Condon (three daughters; marriage dissolved); died Norwich 18 July 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk