Obituary: Emeritus Professor Henry Arthur Jones, CBE
He came to this University in 1967 upon appointment to
the Vaughan Chair of Education and the Directorship of the Department of Adult Education. His decision to respond to the invitation - for invitation
it was - brought not only a man of style, learning and wit to the University but one who was already by that time one of the leading figures
in adult education and who carried, albeit lightly, a knowledge and
His story was that, as a young man, he had gone to Manchester intending to read
Two years as a research fellow led to his MA and then, as with so many of his contemporaries, his career was interrupted by the war, during which he served with the Lancashire Fusiliers and the Durham Light Infantry. He was invalided out as the consequence of an accident and went back to his old school - Chorley Grammar - as Senior English Master. This he enjoyed, to the extent that he would recall there being no better way of earning a living than being paid to sit in the sun and watch boys playing cricket.
His career as an adult educator started with his appointment as Resident Staff Tutor at Manchester University in in 1947, and then as Assistant Director of Extra Mural Studies at Liverpool University in 1949, to become Deputy Director, working with Tom Kelly, in 1953 He was working with many - Kelly, Wiltshire, Styler and others - who may be considered the architects of post-war university adult education.
But he found the environment a narrow
one with university prejudices on one side and Ministry Regulations on the other. His vision needed a wider field, and he took the job of Principal of
the City Literary Institute in 1957. This was not an 'easy' job. The
The City Lit became a centre of good practice and innovation,
attracting world wide attention for both the scale and the imaginative vision of its work. It was at this time that he entered the national scene
and became associated, often as founder, with many of the public voices making what was then the very
difficult case for adult education - he was the Chair of the Adult Education Association, a member of the
Education Committee and he worked with the National Institute of Adult
Putting his national work alongside his innovative work at the City Lit it is difficult to exaggerate
his influence during these crucially formative years for adult education.
Himself a stickler for accuracy of expression and meticulous in his approach to intellectual and academic
matters, he held a deep concern for those who had missed the educational boat (witnessed, for example, in his passionate commitment to the early days
of the adult literacy movement). These enthusiasms and energies were
He was also the natural choice to become the 'university voice' on the Secretary of State's Committee on Adult Education (the Russell Committee) and was, in effect, the principal author of the Report. This was a major achievement recognised by his appointment as CBE in 1974. Although much discussed, the Report appeared to be shelved, and this was a great disappointment to Arthur. But it entertains many of us to see many of those ideas now creeping back, albeit expressed at times in a language which would have attracted Arthur's derision.
He was elected Pro Vice Chancellor of the University
of Leicester in 1978, a post which he held, with distinction, until his retirement in 1981. A skilled and articulate
Although Arthur never produced the 'big book'
- and what a treat that would have been - he was a master of the short piece and monograph, many of these being part of
the campaign to promote adult literacy and the cause of the educationally
But maybe the major impact he made was as friend and adviser to potential authors, a constant stream of which dared not go to press without his scholarly eye - as quick to spot an intellectual nonsense as a grammatical error - having seen what was proposed.
His energy and enthusiasm carried forward into his retirement. Not only did he retain an
interest in university affairs and - to him most importantly - the people therein, and take up a short Visiting Chair at
UBC, he rekindled many of his
old enthusiasms mainly through his work with the Harborough Theatre, making things with his hands, working with many groups in his village,
writing about his village, cultivating his garden
Although Arthur took everything he did very seriously,
he never took himself very seriously: a major figure himself, he could never quite see this, though he had the power to make all those who
exchanged the time of day with him feel that they were major figures. He was a gifted teacher: all those who worked with him took something good away.
He will be remembered by some as a major architect of many of the movements within adult education: by some as a skilled administrator: by some for
But all those - and there are many - whose lives he touched will remember him for his generosity of spirit, his unfailing sense of the comic and that most precious gift of friendship.
Emeritus Professor Bill Forster
Last updated: 3 May 2002 17:00
Created by: Rachel Tunstall
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