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Philip Harris (1926-2018)

  • Michael Hodgetts (a1)


Philip Harris, who died on 21 July 2018 at the age of ninety-one, was born in Woodford, Essex, and educated at St Anthony’s School in Woodford (1932-7), St Ignatius College in London (1937-44), Birkbeck College, London, and the Institute of Historical Research. In 1953 he was awarded an M.A. for a thesis on ‘English Trade with the Eastern Mediterranean in the Late 16th Century’. From 1947 onwards he was on the staff of the British Museum (of which the Library was then part), becoming Assistant Secretary in 1959, Deputy Superintendent of the Reading Room in 1963 and Deputy Keeper in 1966. He was in charge in turn of the Acquisitions, the English and North European, and the West European Branches of the Department of Printed Books. In 1998 he published his History of the British Museum Library, the fruit of more than ten years’ research after his ‘retirement’ in 1986.1 His final project there, almost complete when he died, was on the Old Royal Library donated to the Museum by George II.2 At his funeral the first reading was read by a former head of the Chinese Department there.



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1 Harris, P. R., A History of the British Museum Library, 1753-1973 (London: British Library, 1998) .

2 Information in this paragraph taken from the Order of Service for the funeral mass, collated by Fr Stewart Foster.

3 Harris, P. R., ‘The Reports of William Udall, Informer, 1605-12. Part I’, Recusant History 8 (1965), 192249 ; Harris, P. R., ‘The Reports of William Udall, Informer, 1605-1612. Part II’, Recusant History, 8 (1966), 252284 .

4 Harris, P. R., ‘The English College, Douai, 1750-94 ’, Recusant History, 10 (1969), 7995 ; Harris, P.R., ‘Douai College Documents, 1639-1794’, CRS Records Series, 63 (1971) .

5 Returns of Papists 1767: Diocese of Chester (London: Catholic Record Society, 1980), foreword.

6 Williams, J. Anthony, Catholic Recusancy in Wiltshire , 1660-1791 (London: Catholic Record Society, 1968) ; Aveling, J. C. H., Catholic Recusancy in the City of York, 1558-1791 (London: Catholic Record Society, 1970) .

7 Blom, J. M., The Post Tridentine English Primer (London: Catholic Record Society, 1982) ; Parmiter, Geoffrey de C., Edmund Plowden, an Elizabethan Lawyer (London: Catholic Record Society, 1987) .

Philip Harris (1926-2018)

  • Michael Hodgetts (a1)


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