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.

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

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone