Obituary of David Englander from the Open University.
Cheerfully proletarian was how E.P. Thompson once described David Englander. A native of Whitechapel, who could boast of having been bought ice-creams as a child by at least one of the more murky characters from Raph Samuel’s East End Underworld, David chuckled about the label with pride. He revelled equally in having received ‘six of the best’ from a headmaster called Rhodes Boyson, later a famous Thatcherite politician.
Following his undergraduate career at Warwick University, David did a PGCE and taught in London before returning to Warwick for an MA and then a PhD. Between 1976 and 1979 he was a junior research fellow at Corpus Christi, Oxford, and from there he moved to the History Department at the Open University where he was to spend the bulk of his academic career.
Like many academics David had little love for bureaucracy and management. Nevertheless, at the Open University he took on significant administrative responsibility, serving as sub-dean in the Arts Faculty and chairing a number of successful courses. Not the least of the latter was ‘Charles Booth and Social Investigation 1850-1914’, co-produced with his wife, Rosemary O’Day. This course grew out of the research developed in the Charles Booth Centre for the Study of Social Investigation which they established at the university. It was the first course in the Arts Faculty to be delivered on CD-Rom, and one of the first anywhere to integrate computer-based learning skills with historical enquiry.