Bill Schwarz
This is Stuart Hall’s book, comprising his story. Those familiar
with his writings will know, however, that through his lifetime he
was committed to working and writing collaboratively, often with
people much younger than he was. No book exists which is
authored solely by him. And this book, too, carries traces of other
There was never a single moment when Hall decided that he was
going to embark either on a memoir or on a project of this kind, at
least not on the scale on which it turned out. Some twenty years
ago he and I were contracted to submit a short manuscript in the
form of a conversation seeking to illuminate the major contours of
his intellectual life. He was won both by the brevity and by the
dialogic potential of the venture. We signed the contract and, after
some predictable delays, a series of recorded interviews took place.
I spent a summer transcribing them, and with that done we’d more
or less hit the word limit. The transcription I passed to him con-
tained lengthy annotations, queries and suggestions, as well as a
handful of additional questions which needed to be addressed. We
were, we imagined, close to completion.
As things turned out we weren’t close at all. Hall set about revis-
ing and adding to the text, a practice he could never resist as new
ideas kept on taking shape in his mind and, on the horizon, he spot-
ted emergent intellectual and political controversies summoning
him. Other things  –  major, urgent preoccupations  –  intervened
for him. We talked regularly and when time allowed he would
make sorties on the manuscript. But time passed and progress
was slow.
In his last years illness took its toll. Big projects could no longer
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