Roy Hattersley was born in Sheffield in December 1932. The Hattersleys were staunch Labour supporters. His mother, Enid (neé Brackenbury), was a city councillor, served on the Libraries and Arts Committee for over twenty years, chaired the Yorkshire Museums Service, oversaw the creation of the Crucible Theatre and Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet. She became Lord Mayor of Sheffield in 1981. His father, Frederick Roy Hattersley, a former Roman Catholic priest, was elected to the city council after his retirement from the civil service. For three months before his premature death, he was Chairman of the council’s Health Committee.
Roy’s devotion to Sheffield Wednesday began long before he was old enough to attend matches – stimulated by the noise of the crowd which he could hear from his home, a quarter of a mile from Hillsborough. In 1944 he won a place, under the old scholarship system, in the City Grammar School. By 1950, he knew that his fire lay in politics and chose to read economics at the University of Hull in the belief that knowledge of the subject was essential to his vocation. He returned to Sheffield – first to work in the steel industry, then adult education and eventually for the regional hospital board – in the hope of finding a Sheffield (or at least a Yorkshire) constituency which would send him to parliament. Between 1957 and 1964 he represented Crookesmoor, on the Sheffield City Council and for four years was chairman of the Housing Committee. In 1964, he was elected MP for Sparkbrook – a Birmingham constituency.
In 1968, Roy Hattersley became a junior minister and served on the front bench – either in opposition or government – for the next twenty-five years. He joined the cabinet, as a Secretary of State, in 1975. In 1983 he was elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. On his retirement from the House of Commons, he was made a life peer.
Roy Hattersley – a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford and the Harvard Institute of Politics – was and still is, a writer as well as a politician. He has published twenty-five books – including biographies, histories, topical essays and fiction. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His journalism included columns for the Spectator, the Daily Mail, Punch and (for twenty-seven years) the Guardian. In 1982 he was Granada Television’s Journalist of the Year.
He lives with his wife, Maggie, twelve miles south of the City of Sheffield boundary – within easy reach of Hillsborough and the Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.
The archive contains documents produced by or used by Roy Hattersley in researching his publications, correspondence, minutes, reports, etc, press cuttings, Cabinet papers, and first editions of Roy Hattersley’s own books.