5 December 2016, Monday, IDEAS, LSE
LSE IDEAS and Department of International History: Margaret Gowing and British Nuclear History
: Among others, Professor Matthew Jones
, Professor Michael Cox, Sue Donnelly, Richard Moore (KCL).
On Monday, 5 December, LSE IDEAS and the Department of International History hosted a one-day international conference, involving academics, students, and former government officials, on the life and work of Professor Margaret Gowing.
Margaret Gowing studied at LSE between 1938 and 1941. She went on later to become the doyenne of British nuclear history and was appointed the first Professor of the History of Science at the University of Oxford in 1973. Her election to the British Academy in 1975, and 13 years later to the Royal Society, recognised equally the quality and the breadth of her work which contributed to both the history of the British ‘warfare state’ and the history of science. At the conference, talks were presented by Professor Michael Cox and Sue Donnelly, the LSE Archivist, on Gowing’s years at the School and her early work at the Cabinet Office on the official histories of the Second World War on the home front. Professor Matthew Jones of the Department of International History presented on Gowing’s official history work after 1959 at the UK Atomic Energy Authority where in 1964 she produced the pathbreaking Britain and Atomic Energy, 1939-1945
, which became the authoritative and still unsurpassed study on the UK’s pioneering role in the early years of nuclear weapons development. Richard Moore from Kings College London then spoke on her subsequent volumes, Independence and Deterrence
(1974), co-written with Lorna Arnold, which covered the years between 1945 and 1952, the year when Britain conducted its first nuclear test. Personal recollections of Gowing’s life were shared by her son, Nik, and other members of the family who attended, as well as Lord Stern from the LSE’s Grantham Institute. A roundtable of further reflections on her achievements included Lord Peter Hennessey, Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, Professor David Edgerton, and Professor David Holloway of Stanford University. A notable feature of the conference, which was attended by about 60 people was the presence of 15 LSE Masters students from Professor Matthew Jones
’s nuclear history course HY 448: Living with the Bomb
, bringing together current students with leading academics in the field and former officials from the policymaking world.
Further information on Margaret Gowing can be found here