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Obituary: Mr S Littlewood

Simon Littlewood, who was reading for a PhD in Urban History, died on February 27. In Steel and the City: The Birth of the Vertical City, he produced a fine Master's thesis in which he drew together diverse historical strands to explain the cautious approach adopted in Britain towards skyscraper technology in the twentieth century. He would mutter how these elements were difficult to reconcile and then, typically, would do so by writing with great clarity.

Simon was a perfectionist. In 2000 he received the award of a three-year doctoral studentship from the ESRC to study the relationship between graphics, typography and the development of the advertising industry in urban Britain, 1870-1914. For a school leaver without qualifications, the hard adult route to acquire qualifications ran through City and Guilds classes, GCSEs, A Levels, and a BA at Sheffield Hallam before coming to Leicester to study for an MA in Urban History. Simonís innovative project was progressing well before his death, aged 32, from an epileptic fit. 

As a grand mal epileptic sufferer for many years Simon might have complained about his lot. He never did. In fact, this gentlest of individuals was invariably considerate to fellow students, frequently asking them about their work and occasionally offering an idea or confessing to his own limitations in a way that made them feel less vulnerable. Simon volunteered for tasks in the Centre for Urban History, and edited the CUH Newsletter. He was very dependable, a quality that was recognised by members of the Chesterfield Central Methodist Church where he was a voluntary youth worker. 

Even in death, Simon made a contribution to life. The twenty people from the Centre for Urban History who attended the funeral in Chesterfield recognised that their shared sorrow was tempered by a stronger sense of friendship and a recognition of the human qualities that Simon represented. As scholar and friend, we miss our gentle giant.

Professor Richard Rodger
March 2002

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Last updated: 15 March 2002 17:00
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