Mr Bill Johnson

College appointment: Emeritus Fellow


I came to Magdalen as a Rhodes Scholar from Natal, South Africa in 1964 and studied for a B.Phil in Politics. After a few years at the University of East Anglia I returned to Magdalen in 1969 as a Fellow and Tutor in Politics, a post I held until 1995 when I resigned in order to become Directot of the Helen Suzman Foundation in Johannesburg. I was also Senior Bursar of the College for three years (1980-92), giving up the post after we had carried out a series of major reforms which restored the College to a healthy financial state.This was also a key period in the College’s huge programme of restoration. I have described the struggles of those years and the life of the College then in my Look Back in Laughter. Oxford’s Post-War Golden Age (2015).

I had been very involved in my youth in the anti-apartheid struggle and I returned to South Africa in 1995 to fulfil that commitment. I did not expect the ANC government to work well and I knew that South Africa was in for a difficult time. This has indeed been the case, though it has also been eventful and challenging. Inevitably, my writing after 1995 has been mainly about South Africa, though I am currently working on an update and partial reformulation of Samuel Huntington’s famous Clash of Civilisations.