Interviewing Diana Self

We put student questions to one of our oldest living alumni

I went to LSE during the Second World War, joining in 1943 so we were evacuated to Peterhouse, Cambridge.


Diana Self was born in 1924. She arrived at LSE, then evacuated to Cambridge, in October 1943. She first approached the School in 1942 intending to take the Social Science Certificate but following her interview with Edith Eckhard changed her plans to studying for the BSc (Economics). She was interviewed for admittance to the degree by Asik Radomysler.

Diana Self. Credit: Diana Self
Diana Self. Credit Diana Self.

In her second year Diana specialised in Government and was supervised by Harold Laski. She graduated in August 1946, when LSE had returned to its home on Houghton Street, and in 1947 began working for the Economist Intelligence Unit.

She went on to have a career in Economics and Statistics, including working at the Economist, and Trusthouse Forte Plc. 

She’s now 95 years old and living in London. She took the time to answer some of our students most burning questions.

Tell us about your memories of LSE

I went to LSE during the Second World War, joining in 1943 so we were evacuated to Peterhouse, Cambridge. The social life was limited because of the war, there weren’t many male students. (By 1943 women made up 68% of the student body.)

We had various accommodation in Cambridge, some was organised by LSE and some we found by ourselves.

(The economist Vera Anstey was the School’s main billeting officer cycling round Cambridge to find accommodation for LSE students.)

Find out more about LSE’s evacuation to Cambridge, the challenges for staff and students and life during the war.

What were your fellow students like? 

They were a very interesting group, and they all came from very varied backgrounds.

(At this time at LSE, there were still many overseas students including European refugees and those unable to return home due to war conditions.)

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear LSE?

The people; I met students at LSE who have become life-long friends.

In what ways has LSE helped you in life?

Attending LSE gave me the confidence to go out into the world.

How has LSE shaped your professional/academic career? 

I worked for The Economist who subsequently sent me to the USA as their New York correspondent.

What's the secret to a happy life?

You should take every opportunity that is offered to you.

Who was the best professor you had?

Asik Radomysler, Professor of Government

A German refugee who came to the School as a student in 1935 – he passed with first class honours in 1939 specialising in Economics. He was interned in Canada but released in 1940 and returned to UK following an application from Alexander Carr-Saunders, LSE Director. On his return he took up a Leverhulme Research Scholarship to do a PhD in economics. In 1939 he was appointed to the teaching staff in Economics.

What were the job prospects like after graduation from LSE?

You had to use your initiative when looking for jobs. Using all your network and contacts is really valuable.

What’s your advice to new students?

Go for it!

Special thanks to Diana and her carer for speaking with us about her experiences at LSE. Thank you also to archivist, Sue Donnelly for providing background information about LSE during the Second World War.