William Gerald Beasley 1919–2006

Ian Nish

in Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 153 Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, VII

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780197264348
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734250 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

William Gerald Beasley 1919–2006

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William Gerald Beasley (1919–2006), a Fellow of the British Academy, was the pioneer in introducing Japanese history into British academic circles as teacher, researcher, and author. He was born in Hanwell, Middlesex on December 22, 1919, and moved to Brackley, Northamptonshire, where he was educated at Magdalen College School. In 1937, Beasley registered for a degree in history at University College London. In the last weeks of World War II, he was in the Pacific Islands interrogating Japanese naval prisoners who were few in number and ‘never seemed to possess important information’. Late in June 1945, Beasley was ordered to join the flagship of the British Pacific Fleet, the HMS King George V, so as to be ‘available for duty in Japan, if needed’. In 1947, he began to teach at the School of Oriental and African Studies, which was the beneficiary of financial help under the recommendations of the Scarbrough Commission. In his great book Japanese Imperialism, 1894–1945 (Oxford, 1987), Beasley re-examined the nature of Japan's imperialism.

Keywords: William Gerald Beasley; British Academy; Japan; history; World War II; imperialism; SOAS

Chapter.  4056 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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