Penelope Harris

Penelope Harris, MA, MHMA, PhD, a retired Fellow of the Institute of Administrative Management, based her doctoral thesis on the architect Joseph Hansom and the changing nature of architecture between 1820 and 1860. This built upon previous research, which led to a preliminary biography, Architectural Achievements of Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-1882), Designer of the Hansom Cab, Birmingham Town Hall, and Churches of the Catholic Revival (2010). A comparative newcomer to architectural history, she has long been an enthusiastic member of both the Victorian Society and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and was a founder member of the volunteer editor group looking at Llanfyllin Workhouse for The National Archives.

Dr Harris has recently completed an in-depth investigation into the parallel lives of Hansom and Robert Owen, the subject of a book due to be published very shortly. The two men had many personal traits in common, their philanthropy and their campaigning for better education, especially for the under-privileged. They met in Birmingham, and again when Hansom designed a building for Owen's final attempt to form a social community, in Hampshire. However, there were also considerable differences. Owen, an atheist, attempted to change the world by preaching his own dogma on the "formation of character" (a means to make the world a happier place), whilst Hansom, after a brief foray into politics, focussed on his work within the Catholic community. Penelope's next project will be a full and comprehensive biography of the life of Joseph Hansom.

Last modified 15 December 2018