Roy Harris Jenkins, Baron Jenkins of Hillhead (1920–2003), was a career politician who first won a place in Parliament as a Labour Party MP for Southwark Central (1948) and from there progressed, in the first and second governments of Harold Wilson, to Minister of Aviation (1964), Home Secretary (1965-7), Chancellor of the Exchequer (1967-70) and deputy leader of the Labour Party (1970-2). He became Home Secretary for the second time between 1974-6, during the third Wilson government. After Wilson announced his resignation in March 1976, Jenkins, representing the pro-Europe faction of the Labour Party, failed in a campaign to become party leader (this marking the practical end of any ambition to become Prime Minister) and resigned as Home Secretary in September 1976 to take up a position as President of the European Commission (1977-81).
Estranged from the Labour Party, Jenkins was a founder member (and, until 1983, party leader) of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) along with David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams. He was elected as SDP member for Hillhead, Glasgow in 1982, losing the constituency in 1987 and leading the SDP into a merger with the Liberal Party (renamed the Liberal Democratic Party in 1989).
Jenkins was elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1987, a position he held until his death. He was given a life peerage and was, from 1987, leader of the Lib-Dem peers. Jenkins continued to exercise political influence, including as a mentor to Tony Blair. Jenkins also distinguished himself as an author, particularly of political biographies, including those of Sir Charles Dilke (1958), Asquith (1964) and Churchill (2001), as well as his own memoir A Life At The Centre (1991).
The papers reflect Roy Jenkins' professional career as a politician, author, and Chancellor of the University of Oxford. The collection is predominantly correspondence: political, business-related and personal. In addition to correspondence, there are official papers from Jenkins' career as an MP and minister, president of the European Commission and university chancellor as well as drafts and texts of speeches he made during his long and varied career. The collection also includes research material, drafts, and proofs for Jenkins' books and journalism; diaries (including diaries of Jenkins' father, the MP Arthur Jenkins); papers from the various private committees and charities with which Jenkins was associated; and numerous cassettes, videos and photographs.
The papers were donated to the Bodleian Library by Dame Jennifer Jenkins. They arrived in the Library in Autumn 2011.
We are grateful to a number of donors, including the Pilgrim Trust, for their support for this cataloguing project.
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