Henry Hardy

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Henry Hardy
Henry Hardy in Sorrento, 21 October 2014.jpg
Hardy in Sorrento, October 2014
Born (1949-03-15) 15 March 1949 (age 72)
Academic background
Alma mater
WebsiteOfficial website

Henry Robert Dugdale Hardy (born 15 March 1949) is a British academic, author and editor.


Hardy was born in London in 1949 and educated at Lancing College, where his contemporaries included Christopher Hampton and Tim Rice.[1] He went on to study classics, and then philosophy and psychology, at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and philosophy at Wolfson College, Oxford, where he wrote a BPhil thesis in the philosophy of mind entitled ‘Subjective Experiences’,[2] later expanded into a doctoral thesis.[3] It was at Wolfson that Hardy met Wolfson’s then President, Isaiah Berlin.[4]

Hardy's first edited volume was a collection of writings by Arnold Mallinson, an eccentric Oxford clergyman with whom he lodged for seven years. He published this work under his own imprint (Robert Dugdale).[5] While still a student, Hardy also composed a number of musical pieces, which he published many years later as Tunes: Collected Musical Juvenilia (2003).[6]

In addition to publishing under the pseudonym Robert Dugdale from 1974 to 2005,[7] Hardy worked for thirteen years (1977–90) as an editor at Oxford University Press, first editing and commissioning in the General Books Department, then commissioning academic books as Senior Editor, Political and Social Studies. At OUP in 1980, inspired by Isaiah Berlin's insistence on the crucial role of individual thinkers in the history of ideas, he founded the Past Masters series (now absorbed into the Very Short Introductions series). His wish to publish a work of popular philosophy, Making Names, by Andrew Malcolm, was not endorsed by OUP. This was the subject of Malcolm's landmark legal action against OUP for breach of contract. Hardy's account of this episode is told in his review[8] of Malcolm’s book about the case. Hardy has been a Fellow of Wolfson College since 1990 (an Honorary Fellow since 2015).

At Wolfson he met Bryan Magee, came to know him well, and became his executor. When Magee died in 2019, he organised a celebration of his life at Keble College, Oxford (where Magee was an undergraduate), which was recorded on film. A shortened version of the film may be viewed online.[9]

Isaiah Berlin[edit]

Isaiah Berlin, though a towering intellectual figure at the time of his death, was at one stage not regarded as having published very extensively.[10][11] Hardy's research revealed that Berlin had published well over 150 pieces by the late 1970s.[12]

Hardy's editing of Berlin's essays made Berlin's most important work widely available.[10] In 1990 Hardy abandoned his career in publishing to work full-time on Berlin's unpublished essays, lectures, and correspondence. He has (co-)edited eighteen volumes of Berlin's writings (plus new editions of thirteen of these volumes), as well as a four-volume edition of Berlin's letters, and two books and a pamphlet about Berlin. In 2018 he published a memoir of his work with and on Berlin.[13] Reviewing the book for 'Best Books of 2018' in the Guardian, John Banville wrote: ‘Henry Hardy has self-effacingly devoted the larger part of his professional career to the editing, promoting and celebrating of the work of Isaiah Berlin. In Search of Isaiah Berlin: A Literary Adventure (I.B.Tauris) looks back over his long labours of love with fondness, a fine dry wit and a light salting of justified irritation at those entrusted with Berlin’s posthumous affairs. The second part consists of Hardy’s own philosophical response to Berlin’s theories on matters such as plurality, religious belief and our shared human nature. A wonderful book on a wonderful subject.’[14]

In June 2015 Hardy delivered the 7th Isaiah Berlin Memorial Lecture in Riga. Opening remarks were made by Ivars Ijabs, Chair of the Board of the Foundation for an Open Society.

Family and personal life[edit]

In 1979 Hardy married the historian of medicine Anne Wilkinson. They were separated in 2004, and divorced in 2012. They have two children, Ellen (b. 1983) and Michael (b. 1985). Hardy married Mary Merry in 2013, and now lives with her in Wirral.

On 16 March 2021, Hardy suffered a cardiac arrest, which would probably have killed him had he not been taken to hospital shortly beforehand after a series of blackouts. He wrote: "After two operations, one for inserting two stents, the other for inserting an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (IC-D) costing the NHS a cool £10,000, I am beginning on a portion of my life that would not have existed without modern technology. This gives life a somewhat surreal feel, as I reflect that the world I now see might well not have contained my awareness of it. I am so grateful for the extra time, which I hope I shall use better than the time already spent." [15]


  1. ^ Henry Hardy. "Henry Hardy". University of Oxford. Retrieved 7 December 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ http://users.ox.ac.uk/~wolf0776/lists/unpublished/BPhil-searchable.pdf.
  3. ^ http://users.ox.ac.uk/~wolf0776/lists/unpublished/DPhil-searchable.pdf.
  4. ^ "Wolfson College, Oxford". University of Oxford.
  5. ^ http://users.ox.ac.uk/~wolf0776/dugpubs/mallinsonbooks.htm.
  6. ^ http://users.ox.ac.uk/~wolf0776/dugpubs/tunes.html.
  7. ^ http://users.ox.ac.uk/~wolf0776/dugpubs/index.html.
  8. ^ http://users.ox.ac.uk/~wolf0776/lists/publishedwritings/malcolm.html.
  9. ^ A Celebration of the Life of Bryan Magee on YouTube
  10. ^ a b Ignatieff, Michael (1998). Isaiah Berlin: A Life. London: Chatto & Windus. pp. 279–83. ISBN 0-7011-6325-9. OCLC 40332245. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Editing Isaiah Berlin's Writings". 1978. Retrieved 11 October 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Hardy, Henry. "Isaiah Berlin's Publications". Retrieved 11 October 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Hardy, Henry (2018). In Search of Isaiah Berlin: A Literary Adventure. London: Tauris Parke. ISBN 978-18386-0678-7. OCLC 1090981845. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ For this and other reviews see http://berlin.wolf.ox.ac.uk/lists/onib/books.html#ISIB.
  15. ^ https://twitter.com/hardywolfson/status/1375148964236947466/photo/1.

External links[edit]