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National Life Stories: general collections

The following National Life Stories oral history collections of recorded interviews have a broad subject focus.

Leaders of National Life

Leaders of National Life (catalogue reference number: C408) is one of National Life Stories' founding collections. Its scope is wide, and includes politics, industry, the arts, sports, religion, the professions, administration and communications. Priority is given to those whose life stories have not been previously recorded or published or who might not feature in one of NLS’s other projects.

Interviewees include:

  • Anthony Storr
  • Sir Patrick Macrory
  • Peter Moro
  • Harry Ree
  • Lord Flowers
  • Sir Nicholas Goodison
  • Honor Earl
  • Kitty Godfree
  • Lord Young
  • Baroness Faithful
  • Josephine Barnes
  • Sir Hugh Casson
  • Maurice Wilkins
  • Dame Jennifer Jenkins
  • Betty Boothroyd
  • Helen Brook
  • Lord Asa Briggs
  • Martyn Goff

National Life Story Awards

The National Life Story Awards (catalogue reference number: C642) was a nationwide competition which ran in 1993/94 to promote the value of life story recording and autobiographical writing. The judges, among them Lord Briggs and Penelope Lively, chose winners from 1000 entries in three categories: young interviewer, taped entries and written entries.

Melvyn Bragg presented the prizes. The awards were supported by the Arts Council, the ITV Telethon Trust and European Year of Older People.

NLS General

The NLS: General (catalogue reference number: C464) collection is a miscellaneous series of interviews conducted with prominent individuals who do not fit into existing National Life Stories collections.

Interviewees include: 

  • Margaret Casson
  • Una Kroll (a retired GP and priest)
  • Professor Joseph Rotblat (nuclear physicist and recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace for his efforts towards nuclear disarmament)
  • Russian biologist Zhores Medvedev

Accessing the collection

To access oral history material:

  • Search for oral history recordings held at the British Library using the online Sound and Moving Image Catalogue (see useful advice on searching the oral history collections).
  • Onsite access to oral history recordings: The Listening and Viewing Service in St Pancras provides free public access to the oral history collections on an appointment basis. Many digital recordings are also available via SoundServer, a computerised listening facility located in the Humanities Reading Rooms.  SoundServer is also available at the British Library’s site in Boston Spa in Yorkshire.
  • Internet access to selected oral history recordings: The British Library Sounds website gives remote access to a selection of interviews from the Library’s oral history collections. Some recordings are currently only licensed to Higher and Further Education users in the UK, others are available for full public access.

Further information

Contact us

Oral History
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

T +44 (0)20 7412 7405 (Rob Perks, Lead Curator, Oral History  / Director of National Life Stories)
T +44 (0)20 7412 7406 (Mary Stewart, Curator, Oral History / Deputy Director of National Life Stories)
T +44 (0)20 7412 7404 (Elspeth Millar, Archivist, Oral History)