Paul Langford

October 2, 1998

Cultural life has begun anew for the man charged with redefining the way money is given to arts and humanities.

Paul Langford, chair of the new Arts and Humanities Research Board, which starts up this week, blames babysitting needs for stopping him visiting the theatre quite as much as he would have liked in recent years.

But now that his son has reached 14 he hopes to resume play-going. Otherwise, Langford's main interest is gardening, although he enjoys listening to music.

Educated at Monmouth School and Hertford College, Oxford, he has been an Oxford academic for the whole of his professional life, as a fellow and tutor in modern history at Lincoln College since 1970, reader since 1994 and professor since 1996.

Admired by fellow historians for his erudition and attention to detail, he spends most of his time immersed in eighteenth century British history, which he says has always interested him because of its mobility and dynamism. In Polite and Commercial People he argued that the period was one of change, dominated by the middle classes, flouting the traditional view of the period as one of aristocratic-led stability.

Langford has also always played an active part in university and college administration, with a particular interest in graduate studies. He believes in the importance of involving himself in administrative matters as a way of promoting his subject.

Well-versed in the cultural life of 18th century Britain, he has been a member of the Humanities Research Board at the British Academy since 1995 and a fellow of the British Academy for two years before that.

At the HRB, he was heavily involved in administering postgraduate awards.

He is said to be fair, a good listener, prepared to be flexible and possessing a wry sense of humour, with some of his statements containing a hidden "kick".

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