29 December 2014

Professor H.H. Price

copy of a letter to an academic

I have been thinking about Professor H.H. Price’s role in my attempts to return to academia. These are preliminary notes.

* * *

Henry Habberley Price
(1899 - 1984)
Professor Price was unusually open to my ideas about the existential uncertainty. Nobody else at the Society for Psychical Research had taken any interest in Alexandra David-Neel, for example. His awareness of my ability did not seem, as it so often did, to arouse hostility, which would sometimes express itself violently.

Professor Price said that I was the ideal DPhil student. He always wrote glowing reports on my work to the electors of the Perrott Studentship at Trinity College, Cambridge, and to others who gave financial support.

He appreciated the way I wrote, and said that I could say in one page what it would take most people three pages to say. He said that I had an alpha mind.

W.H. Salter did not like Price having this attitude towards me. He said that it was all too easy to get Professor Price’s approval, so that he (Salter) would not find this of any use in obtaining financial supporters for me. I needed to get the support of people who were less of a soft touch, said Salter. I needed to get the support of someone such as Professor Dodds.

E.R. Dodds
(1893 - 1979)
I knew that I could not get the support of Professor Dodds, and did not think it was possible for anyone to do so who was not merely wanting to criticise other people’s work. The fact was that by this time Salter was hostile to me himself.

What Professor Price’s support did for me was that I had a clear run through the years for which I held the Perrott Studentship, and the widespread hostility could do nothing to deprive me of it, as it would have wished to do. So, in the hostile circumstances in which I found myself, Professor Price’s appreciation of my ability was a considerable asset.