Professor Dick Geary, 1945-2021

February 25th, 2021

Following the sad news of the passing of Professor Dick Geary on Sunday 21 February, Professor Ross Balzaretti and colleagues at the University of Nottingham Department of History remember his life and works.

Dick Geary was born in December 1945 in Leicester. He studied at King’s College Cambridge and, before coming to Nottingham in 1989, he worked at Lancaster University where he was Head of German Studies. While at Nottingham he was Head of History in the early 1990s and for some years Director of the Institute for the Study of Slavery (ISOS).

He was a remarkable scholar and intellectual whose research for much of his career encompassed the history of Marxism, modern German social and political history, in particular the history of unemployment and labour protest in twentieth-century Germany, and comparative European labour history. He not only made key contributions to the field of comparative labour history in the UK and further afield; he also encouraged and facilitated the work of other scholars.  Latterly his work took a notable new turn into comparative global labour history, and he added Portuguese to his other languages so that he could research the history of slavery in Brazil, a country he got to know firsthand.

Dick published at least ten books including on Karl Kautsky, a Marxist philosopher, his pathbreaking European Labour Protest, and a very well-known book on Hitler and Nazism in 1993, which was much used in sixth forms across the country and translated into many languages. His international reputation for shrewd work in comparative history, written concisely and based on wide knowledge, bore fruit in a very popular comparative labour history course he ran for many years with Chris Wrigley.

Professor Dick Geary

Professor Dick Geary, 1945-2021

He was an inspiring teacher, encouraging hard work and much thought, and helped many students in difficulties. He was a spellbinding lecturer, much in demand for public events, and a wonderful colleague who was always very encouraging to younger members of staff.

For many years he could reliably be found in the University Club at lunchtime with his friend Nick Hewitt, where he captivated many with sparkling conversation, thoughts about the state of the University and unforgettable anecdotes.

He had played at Junior Wimbledon and captained the Blues at football at Cambridge. He was a lifelong Leicester City Football Club supporter, checking that team’s result in internet cafes when in Brazil. Dick is sorely missed by his colleagues at Nottingham.

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March 1st, 2021 at 6:49 pm

Eduardo França Paiva

RIP Dick Geary. I am grateful for your initiatives regarding the history of work and slavery. Thank you, dear friend. Eduardo França Paiva (Universidade Federal de MInas Gerais, Brazil)

November 4th, 2021 at 8:50 am

Jeffrey Davis

I was sorry to hear this news. I remember Dick Geary as a charismatic and inspiring History lecturer when I was a student at Lancaster University between 1973 and 1976, as well as being the author of a valuable Lancaster Pamphlet, on Hitler and Nazism, which I used with my own A Level History students for many years.

November 21st, 2021 at 2:59 pm

Dave Williams

Just heard of this after googling what Dick was up to these days. Fond memories of beer and chat on campus and in Beeston. Thanks for doing a couple of talks for me at my schools and inspirational teaching on the MA Modern Social History course at Nottingham. Was impressed by Dick’s sporting prowess nearly as much as his intellect.

May 1st, 2022 at 4:51 pm

Giand Godoy & Esther Anderson

Dear friends,

Our condolences to Dick Geary’s family and friends. Thanks to Dick we brought the documentary The Three Dumas to Nottingham University as part of the study of slavery. His work has made an extraordinary contribution to the humanities.

With love

Gian & Esther
Trenhorne Films

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