Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research

Life history and life writing research uses life story - whether in the form of oral history, personal narrative, autobiography or biography - as a primary source for the study of history and culture.

Life history and life writing research uses life story - whether in the form of oral history, personal narrative, autobiography or biography - as a primary source for the study of history and culture. Life stories capture the relation between the individual and society, the local and the national, the past and present and the public and private experience. Research involves grappling with theories of memory, relationship and self representation, and with debates about literacy and orality. Many disciplines contribute to the field, including history, sociology, anthropology, literary philosophy, cultural studies and psychology. Life history and life writing researchers present their work in many forms. As well as academic publications, we contribute to radio and television documentaries, auto/biographical drama, reminiscence work, digital and video presentations and exhibitions. Life history and life writing research is, of necessity, concerned with ethics and power relationships, and with the potential for advocacy and empowerment.

Stanmer - Oral Histories

Stanmer House

Local company Inroads Productions has been awarded R&D funding through the Arts Council England’s Grants For The Arts Scheme to develop Stanmer, a brand new play to be written by Sara Clifford.

Getting involved: There will be plenty of opportunities for members of the community to get involved by either contributing their stories and memories or taking part in free oral history training sessions delivered by Brighton University Centre For Research in Memory Narrative & Histories.

ORAL HISTORIES – 50 voices: A key element of the project will be to work with local residents to collect their memories of the House and park, and particularly the early days of the university, as well as family stories about working at the House.

Do you have a story to share? Then please get in touch…

CONTACT: Sara Clifford – stanmerhouse1960@gmail.com

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Progressive/Traditional: Two sides of Boarding School

Mikey Cuddihy & Judith Okely discuss their memories of schooldays
Chair: Professor Sue Thornham

25 November 2014, Silverstone Building 317
4- 5.30 pm, University of Sussex
Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9SL  

Mikey Cuddihy portrait

Mikey Cuddihy is an American born artist and writer. After the death of both her parents when she was nine, she was sent to England where she attended Summerhill, a small progressive school, run by A.S. Neill, in Suffolk. She left school at 16, and studied art, eventually settling in London. She recently wrote her memoir A Conversation About Happiness (published by Atlantic Books in 2014), based on her childhood, her time at Summerhill in the 1960s and early years as an artist.

Judith Okely's Boarding School

Professor Judith Okely is a Research Associate at the School of Anthropology, Oxford, and the author of The Traveller-Gypsies, Simone de Beauvoir: a re-reading, Anthropology and Autobiography and Anthropological Practice: fieldwork and the ethnographic method.  She recently revisited the all-girls boarding school she attended on the Isle of Wight. Aspects of this were explored in Own or Other Culture and subsequent publications, including ‘The filmed Return of the Natives to a Territory of Terror’. One lasting memory was being told by the headmistress that she would be ‘selfish’ to go to university because this would be ‘depriving a more worthy person of a place’.

The discussion will be followed by drinks and nibbles in the social space outside the seminar room Silverstone 317.

For more information, please contact: Alexandra Loske, a.loske@sussex.ac.uk

Mailing list

If you would like to join the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research mailing list and receive regular updates about events, conferences and publication opportunities in the field of life history, life writing and oral history, please email: M.Jolly@sussex.ac.uk


The Centre for Life History & Life Writing Research at the University at Sussex explores life narrative as art, history and social practice.

25 Nov. 4 pm: Progressive/Traditional: Two sides of Boarding School @MikeyCuddihy1 & Judith Okely discuss memories sussex.ac.uk/clhlwr/seminar…

Exciting: On 25 Nov @MikeyCuddihy1 will come to us to talk about her memories of Summerhill. She'll be joined byJudith Okely. Details soon.

See some pictures of our popular Shivaun Woolfson event on 7 October, 'People, Places and Holocaust Objects' here: sussex.ac.uk/clhlwr/seminar…

RT @SpokenMemoirs: Inspirational and moving talk by Shivaun Woolfson @CLHLWR @SussexUni yesterday.'People Places and Holocaust Objects'

Invitation to book launch and reading for 'We Shall Bear Witness: Life Narratives and Human Rights' Details: pic.twitter.com/KytqOdvnPS

Visit CLHLWR on Twitter