The study of English political history has suffered a grievous loss with the death of Stephen Koss in New York on 25 October last. Though only 44, hardly more than half my age, Stephen had already established himself as an authority of the first rank on British political history in the 19th and 20th centuries. He wrote outstanding biographies of such Liberal leaders as Asquith, John Morley and Haldane, concluding with A.G. Gardiner, long-time editor of the Daily News. He then gave up political biography and wrote an enormous two-volume work on The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain. It is difficult enough to write the history of a single newspaper: Koss handled them without strain by the dozen. He was devoted to England, which he visited for a considerable period nearly every year. Indeed he aspired to an academic post somewhere in England or Scotland, and it is to be much regretted that Stephen's ambition was never fulfilled. As it was, he was warmly welcomed in English historical communities wherever he went. Many English historians turned to Stephen Koss for guidance and information. I can think of no historian whom I respected more or who guided me better on difficult topics.
LRB 6 December 1984 | PDF Download