Jim Bradbury obituary

Other lives: History lecturer who published a series of books shedding new light on medieval England

My brother, Jim Bradbury, who has died aged 85, was a medieval historian who wrote books of popular interest and made a major contribution to the understanding of England in that period.

His first book, Shakespeare and His Theatre, was published in 1975 and is a useful reader for schools in providing a background to Shakespeare’s life and work. He went on to write nine more books including The Battle of Hastings (1998) and Robin Hood (2010). They were carefully researched and much aided by his knowledge of Latin and medieval French and English. He attended annual conferences at Pyke House in Battle, East Sussex, on Anglo-Norman studies and made many friends there.

Born in London, Jim was the eldest of four children of Sarah (nee Joel) and George Bradbury, a draughtsman for a furniture manufacturer. He attended Gayhurst primary school and then Dame Alice Owen’s grammar school. Jim wrote that at Owen’s his interest in medieval history was sparked by one of his teachers, Mr RA Dare, “whom I can see now with his eyes closed and arms waving, carried away by some event of that era”.

Jim studied history at King’s College London, where he graduated with honours. He later took his MA there and paid a particular tribute to Allen Brown, who fostered his interest in the Battle of Hastings and the history of that momentous time. After gaining his teaching qualification at the Institute of Education in London he went on to teach at comprehensive schools in Shoreditch, east London, and Selsey, West Sussex, before moving to Borough Road College (later the West London Institute of Higher Education, and now part of Brunel University) in the late 1960s to take up a lectureship in history – he was later promoted to senior lecturer.

In 1958 he married Ann Hooper, and they had two children, Stephen and Jane. Sadly, a baby, Derek, died of a heart defect shortly after birth. The family settled in Selsey, from where Jim commuted to work in London until his retirement in 1989. In his spare time, he was an enthusiastic trumpet player and enjoyed listening to music, as well as playing. He also painted portraits and other pieces which adorned the study at his home.

He is survived by Ann, Stephen and Jane, his grandchildren, Hannah, Frankie, Maisie, Mathew and Will, and his younger brother and sister, twins, Evelyn and me. Our sister, Valerie, died in 1999.

David Bradbury

The GuardianTramp

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