Baroness Patricia Hollis

Category: 1960s /  All Harkness Stories /  Higher Education /  Politics & Public Services / 

Baroness Patricia Hollis (HF 1963-64 ) (1941 to 2018) found that the Harkness Fellowship turned her life around. As her parents had both left school aged 12, she applied to Cambridge (UK) because she had heard of it, along with Oxford and LSE (as a trade unionist, her Dad had heard of Harold Laski!). Patricia got a First in history in 1962, and then a Harkness Fellowship to Berkeley, California to study sociology. Her newly acquired American boyfriend was active in the civil rights movement. They rode buses, picketed segregated restaurants (George Wallace, Alabama, “Turkey dinners 99c and guaranteed no n—–rs.”), and worked on voter registration in Mississippi. She heard Martin Luther King have a dream. After a second year at Columbia, New York, she came back to Nuffield College, Oxford to complete a D.Phil; which (along with her Harkness Fellow late husband, Martin) took them on to jobs at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, in 1967. In 1968 Patricia was elected to the local Council. She went on to become Dean of the School of English and American Studies as well as leader of Norwich City Council in the 1980s. She also served on the Regional health Authority, on English Heritage, the Press Council and as Chair of a local housing association. She is renowned as a successful campaigning politician who did her home work, used statistics to support her case and spoke common sense powerfully.  In 1990 she was appointed to the Lords, and from 1997-2005 was Blair’s Lord’s Minister for DSS/DWP. Patricia is survived by two sons, a radio producer for Radio 4 (ex Fulbright); and the current Faber Poetry editor. (Story initially written by Patricia and later updated)