Asa Briggs, who died in 2016, was a historian who, as a young university fellow, was once given the task of proof-reading Winston Churchill’s four-volume A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.
Briggs’s war was spent at Bletchley Park helping to decipher the German Enigma codes – he was the youngest warrant officer in the British army. This training in analytical thinking subsequently served him well as a historian. Although his main area of interest was Victorian England, Briggs – ennobled as Baron Briggs of Lewes in 1976 – also wrote the authorised history of the BBC and of Marks & Spencer. He was a key figure in the foundation of Sussex University and, though a socialist by sentiment, enjoyed being part of the establishment.