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National Life Stories: Oral History of the British Press

Oral History of British Press has collected the life stories of key press and newspaper figures. Begun in 1994, the project was revived in 2006 thanks to support from the British Library as part of the popular 'Front Page' exhibition.

Interviewees include Dennis Griffiths (former editor of the Daily Express and the Evening Standard); Frank Barlow (Managing Director of the Financial Times); Robert Edwards (former editor of the Daily Express, Sunday Mirror, The People and deputy chairman of the Mirror Group under Robert Maxwell); Vic Giles (art director at the Daily Mirror and launch art director for The Sun); Ken Morgan (former General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, and former Director of the Press Complaints Commission) and Andreas Whittam-Smith (proprietor and launch editor of The Independent); Brenda Dean (who, as General Secretary of the print union SOGAT during the News International crisis, was the first woman to lead a major industrial trade union); Brian MacArthur (The Times, The Sunday Times and launch editor of Today); Donald Trelford (who edited The Observer between 1975 and 1993); Bill Hagerty (deputy editor of the Daily Mirror and editor of The People); and Roy Greenslade (whose 40-year career embraced the Daily Mirror, The Sunday Times, The Sun, and who, since 1992, has had a further career as a media commentator).

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)