Laurie Taylor (sociologist)

Laurence John Taylor (born 1 August 1936) is an English sociologist and radio presenter, originally from Liverpool.

Laurie Taylor
Laurence John Taylor

(1936-08-01) 1 August 1936 (age 84)
Liverpool, England
Alma materBirkbeck, University of London
University of Leicester
Radio presenter
Spouse(s)Jennie Howells (??)

Anna Coote (??)

Cathie Mahoney (1988?)

Sally Feldman (?)
ChildrenMatthew Taylor


After attending Roman Catholic schools including St Mary's College, Crosby, Merseyside, then a direct grant grammar and now an independent school, Taylor trained as an actor at Rose Bruford College, Sidcup, associated with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in Stratford, London. He was also a teacher at the Forest Hill comprehensive school for boys.

After earning degrees in sociology and psychology, as a mature student, at Birkbeck College and the University of Leicester, he joined the department of sociology at the University of York, becoming a professor at that institution. He is retired from York.[1]

Taylor is sometimes thought to be the model for Howard Kirk in Malcolm Bradbury's novel The History Man[2] although Bradbury and Taylor had not met at the time the book was written. Taylor was then a member of the Trotskyist International Socialists.[3]

Taylor is divorced from his third wife (whom he married in December 1988 in Camden), radio producer Cathie Mahoney who works on Loose Ends on BBC Radio 4. He was previously married to journalist Anna Coote, a former deputy editor of the New Statesman, who has also been associated with various public organisations. He is now married to Sally Feldman, journalist and former editor of Radio Four's Woman's Hour and currently a humanist celebrant.

Taylor's son, Matthew, is Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts.


Taylor has a particular interest in criminology. He was one of the founder members of the National Deviancy Conference.[4] As a popular author writing on the media and fame, he has published widely in criminology. Perhaps his best-known early work was the book co-written with Stanley Cohen: Escape Attempts: The Theory and Practice of Resistance to Everyday Life. The book arose from research into the wellbeing of long-term prisoners. He has collaborated with bank robber turned author, John McVicar, on research.

Taylor has had an extensive broadcasting career on BBC Radio 4. For many years he was a regular participant on Robert Robinson's fiercely competitive conversation programme Stop The Week, later presented The Radio Programme and took on The Afternoon Shift, a re-branding of the ill-fated Anderson Country. His media associates have included Tom Baker[5] and Victor Lewis-Smith. In 1991 he appeared in the documentary Flesh and Blood: The Story of the Krays.[6]

Since 1998, Taylor has regularly presented the discussion programme Thinking Allowed on BBC Radio 4, a series mainly devoted to the social sciences. In addition, he is known for his long-running and mainly humorous column in the Times Higher Education Supplement[7] as well as writing for the New Humanist and being a distinguished supporter of Humanists UK. He is the presenter of In Confidence, a series of one-hour in-depth interviews with public figures.




  • Taylor, L. 1967. Signs of Trouble: Aspects of Delinquency. BBC.
  • Taylor, Laurie; Cohen, Stanley (1972), Psychological Survival: the Experience of Long Term Imprisonment, Harmondsworth: Penguin
  • Taylor, Laurie; Taylor, Ian ((Eds) 1972), Politics And Deviance, Harmondsworth: Penguin Check date values in: |year= (help)
  • Cohen, S. & Taylor, Laurie (1976), Escape attempts: the theory and practice of resistance in everyday life ISBN 978-0-415-06500-9. New edition Routledge, 1992.
  • Taylor, L, R Lacey and D Bracken. 1980. In Whose Best Interests?: Unjust Treatment of Children in Courts and Institutions. Civil Liberties Trust.
  • Taylor, Laurie (1984), In the Underworld, Oxford: Blackwell
  • Taylor, L and B. Mullan. 1986. Uninvited Guests: Intimate Secrets of Television and Radio. Chatto & Windus.
  • Taylor, Laurie; Taylor, Matthew (2001), What Are Children For?, London: Trafalgar Square, ISBN 978-1-904095-25-5
  • Taylor, L. 2004. The Laurie Taylor Guide to Higher Education. Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Taylor, L. 2014. In Confidence: Talking Frankly about Fame. Zero Books.

Papers and contributions

  • Taylor, Laurie; Walton, P. (1971), "Industrial Sabotage: Motives and Meanings", in Cohen, Stanley (ed.), Images of Deviance, Harmondsworth: Penguin
  • Taylor, Laurie (1972), "The Significance and Interpretations of Replies to Motivational Questions: the Case of Sex Offenders", Sociology, 6 (1): 23–40, doi:10.1177/003803857200600102.


  1. "Listed as former Head of Dept of Sociology at York" (PDF).
  2. "The 'History Man' on Sir Malcolm Bradbury". BBC News. 28 November 2000. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  3. Laurie Taylor "Motley crew", New Humanist, 7 May 2008
  4. van Swaaningen, R. (1997) Critical Criminology: Visions from Europe, London: SAGE pg.78
  5. "BFI Screenonline: Baker, Tom (1936-) Biography". Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  6. [bare URL]
  7. "THES: Laurie Taylor". Times Higher Education Supplement. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  8. "Honorary Graduates of the University of Nottingham" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  9. "News and events archive". Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  10. "Queen's honours for Blair and Ahern". Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  11. "Best-selling biologist and outspoken atheist among those honoured by University - News - The University of Aberdeen". Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  12. "Laurie Taylor". Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  13. "Graduation 2016 - Honorary Doctorate Speech from Professor Laurie Taylor". YouTube. 9 July 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2018.