Home Archives & Manuscripts Archive Contents ARTHUR MAURICE HOCART MEMORIAL PRIZE (A121)

Correspondence and papers 1948 to 1963

Mrs Hocart left the RAI a bequest in her will with which to establish a prize in memory of her husband. It was designed to be awarded for the best undergraduate essay in anthropology, and was originally given in anthropological books every three years. A cash prize was later offered, and in 1960 the prize was made annual. However, entries were sporadic and there is no mention of the prize from 1963 to 1972, when it was claimed by James Urry. There have been further awards, and the Prize is still active. There are no minutes specifically for the Prize. A full list can be found in the ‘Prizes’ section of the House Archives.


1    Establishment of the Prize

2    First essay submitted

3    Essays submitted by J.A.R. Blacking and Murray Groves

4    Essay submitted by Vernon Reynolds

5    Essays submitted by Jay Singh and Vernon Reynolds

6    Essay submitted by R.G. Abrahams

7    Essay submitted by Semir M. Zeki

8    Essay submitted by Michael Young

9    Essay submitted by Michael Thomson


AHC    Anthony H. Christie (d. 1994), Council 1959-61, Hon. Secretary, 1961-70

WBF    William Buller Fagg, CMG (1914-92), RAI Hon. Secretary, 1939-56; Hon. Editor of Man 1947-66

MWS    Dr Marion W. Smith (1907-61), Hon. Secretary, 1956-61

FS        Felicia Stallman, Assistant Secretary, 1942-52

1/    Establishment of the Prize


1    W.R. Millar & Sons, solicitors, to the Treasurer, RAI [D.H.F. Wilson], 25 Mar. 1948 – encloses a copy of the will of Mrs E.G. Hocart, who died on 2 May 1947; she bequeaths a legacy of £300 for the establishment of a Prize; cheque enclosed (tp.); see CM/77/7 Council minutes, 6 Apr. 1948, Item 2b, f. 525

2    FS to Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard, 24 June 1948 – tells him of Mrs Hocart’s bequest; quotes a passage from her will; Council asks for his opinion on how best to prepare a scheme to carry out the establishment of a Memorial Prize (tpc.) similar letters sent to Prof. J.H. Hutton and Prof. Raymond Firth, not retained

3    Prof. J.H. Hutton to FS, 26 June – thinks the Prize should be awarded to undergraduate students from the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London; advice on bestowal of the award should be sought from the head of the appropriate department or examining body; the least unsatisfactory way would be to treat it as a University prize and allot it to only one University; makes suggestions as to which one (autogr.)

4    FS to W.R. Millar & Sons, 29 June – the Officers of the RAI are working on a scheme to carry out Mrs Hocart’s request; they have found it usual to allow ten per cent to be used for administration costs; will let him know when all is arranged (tpc.)

5    Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard [to FS], nd – suggests a short essay with the award to be in books chosen by the winner stamped with ‘The Arthur Maurice Hocart Memorial Fund’ (autogr.)

6    J.L. Myres to FS, 7 July – thinks the RAI should accept the bequest; comments on financial implications and Trustees; thinks the award should be made to undergraduates (autogr.)

7    Notes by [WBF] on requirements of the Prize Essay, and who should judge them (autogr. draft)

8    W.R. Millar & Sons to FS, 5 Nov. – have heard nothing since her letter of 29 June; needs a decision in the near future (tp.)

9    Copy of Agenda No. 7 Hocart Bequest (CM/78/2), 9 Nov. – a prize of £20 in books shall be awarded triennially for an essay submitted through the Head of a Department of Anthropology by an undergraduate (tpc.); see CM/78/2 Council minutes, 9 Nov. 1948, Item 7, f. 542

10    D.H.F. Wilson to W.R. Millar & Sons, 16 Nov. 1948 – has had to consult with Professors of Anthropology before a suitable scheme could be devised; sets out the scheme (tpc.)


11    Coutts & Co. to FS, 10 Feb. 1949 – confirms that the Hocart Account has been opened (tp.)

12    T. Walter Howland to FS, 16 Mar. – the prize will be awarded every three years on the anniversary of Mrs Hocart’s death, 2 May; inevitably the first prize will be of less value than subsequent ones; on Trustees (tp.)

13    FS to T.W. Howland, Kimber Bull & Co., 19 Mar. – it cannot be helped that the first prize will be very small; answers his queries about the Trustees (tpc.)

14    Coutts & Co. to FS, 25 Mar. – have invested the £300; confirm that they have specimens of D.H.F. Wilson’s and WBF’s signatures as Trustees (tp.)

15    T. Walter Howland to FS, 26 Apr. – W.R. Millar & Sons have no comment to make on the draft Trust Deed; asks when the legacy was paid to the RAI (tp.)

16    FS to T. Walter Howland, 7 May – explains that there was a delay between the arrival of the cheque and its acceptance by Council; it was redated and received in Mar. (tpc.)

17    T. Walter Howland to FS, 10 May – has inserted the date of 4 Mar. in the Trust Deed; it is now being engrossed and will be sent for execution (tp.)

18    Kimber Bull & Co. to FS, 27 July – sends the engrossment of the Trust Deed establishing the Hocart Memorial Prize; notes that it would be a time before the Institute sealed the document (tp. with autogr. note by WBF)

19    T. Walter Howland to FS, 16 Nov. – the Trust Deed has now been stamped; returns it for safe-keeping by the Trustees; cannot decipher the signature of the second witness; encloses bill (tp.)

20    FS to T. Walter Howland, 17 Nov. – the second witness was J.P. Mills (tpc.)

2/    First essay submitted


1    FS to Dr Max Gluckman, 20 Nov. 1950 – only one essay has been submitted this year, ‘Definition of law in primitive society’; will send a copy if he is ready to judge and make a report on it (tpc.) similar letter to Dr J. Peristiany not retained; see Council minutes, CM/80/2, 7 Nov. 1950, Item 8, f. 616(2)

2    Dr J.G. Peristiany, [3 Dec.] – report on the essay; thinks it an oversimplification (tp.)

3    Dr Max Gluckman to President, 15 Dec. – ibid. (tp.)

No prize was awarded: see Council minutes, CM/80/4, 9 Jan. 1951, Item VIII, f. 622

3/    Essays submitted by John A.R. Blacking and Murray Groves


1    Announcement of the Arthur Maurice Hocart Memorial Prize, 1953 – lists rules; offers prize of anthropological books to the value of £20 (tpc.)

2    Dr Meyer Fortes to WBF, 16 Sep. 1953 – encloses ‘Unwritten music and society’ by J.A.R. Blacking (tp.)

3    Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard to WBF, 29 Oct. – encloses an entry by M. Groves [‘Dancing in Poreporena’] (tp., with autogr. note by WBF asking Miss Jackson for a copy of the rules)

4    WBF to Prof. A.N. Tucker, 23 Dec. – the judges for the Hocart Prize are Prof. Tucker, Dr E.R. Leach and H.J. Braunholtz; two essays have been submitted; encloses a copy of the rules; hopes a decision can be reported at the Council meeting of 4 Mar. (tp.); see Council minutes, CM/83/2, 5 Nov. 1953, Item 8, f. 705

5    H.J. Braunholtz, nd – report on the two essays; favours ‘Dancing in Poreporena’. 3 pp. (autogr.)

6    Prof. A.N. Tucker, nd – report; thinks both essays are good and wishes to withhold a final verdict (tp., in autogr. note of 25 Feb. 1954 adds that he is willing to fall in with his fellow judges and award the prize to M. Groves; wishes an acknowledgement to be sent to J.A.R. Blacking)

7    Dr E.R. Leach, nd – report; agrees with Prof. Tucker that both essays have merit but favours ‘Dancing in Poreporena’ (tp.)


8    WBF to M. Groves, 8 Mar. 1954 – he has been awarded the prize of £20; has forwarded a copy of his essay to the Hon. Editor, J.C. Trevor for possible inclusion in the Journal; invites him to read the paper at a meeting of the Institute; he will be a guest of the Long Pig Club afterwards (tpc.); see Council minutes, CM/83/6, 4 Mar. 1954, Item 12, f. 717

9    J.A.R. Blacking to WBF, 21 June – has heard nothing about his entry for the Hocart Prize since he handed it to Dr Meyer Fortes; gives details of his whereabouts (tp.)

10    WBF to J.A.R. Blacking, 25 June – notifies him that the prize was won by M. Groves but he received an honourable mention; returns his manuscript; suggests a talk with H.J. Braunholtz if he wishes to make alterations; hopes to see him on his return to England; wishes to discuss various matters with him and introduce him to his brother (tpc.)

No essays were received for 1956, and it was agreed to award the Prize in 1957; it was decided to offer a prize of £20 in cash, rather than in anthropological books see Council minutes, CM/86/5, 7 Feb. 1957, Item 6iv, f. 2

4/    Essay submitted by Vernon Reynolds


1    Copy of the rules with an autogr. note by Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard suggesting that entry should be widened from the United Kingdom to the Commonwealth (tpc.)

2    Prof. C. Daryll Forde to MWS, 28 Oct. 1957 – is transmitting an essay by V. Reynolds

3    WBF, Acting Hon. Secretary to Prof. I. Schapera, 20 Dec. 1957 – he and Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard have been appointed judges for the Hocart Prize this year; only one essay has been received, ‘An analysis of some South American joking relationships’ (tpc.); see Council minutes, CM/87/2, 7 Nov. 1957, Item 5, f. 28

4    Ibid., to Dr Lucy Mair, 31 Dec. – she has been invited to be one of the judges for the Hocart Prize this year (tpc.); see Council minutes, CM/87/3, 5 Dec. 1957, Item 6, f. 31


5    Miss J.E. Edwards to Prof. I. Schapera, 9 Jan. 1958 – encloses a copy of the paper and asks him to pass it to Dr Mair (tpc.)

6    MWS to V. Reynolds, 5 Mar. – is sorry to tell him that the judges decided not to make an award this year; the prize will be offered again in 1959; wishes him success if he tries again (tpc.); see Council minutes, CM/87/5, 6 Feb. 1958, Item 6, f. 37

5/    Essays submitted by Jay P. Singh and Vernon Reynolds


1    E.L. Peters to WBF, 30 Oct. 1958 – submits ‘The political system of the Trobriand Islands’ by J.P. Singh

2    Dr E.R. Leach to MWS, 8 Nov. – is willing to act as a referee provided that neither of the essays emanates from his department at Cambridge; hopes Lord Raglan will read them first as he is very busy (tp.)

3    Lord Raglan, nd – gives his opinions of the two essays (tp.)

4    Dr E.R. Leach to MWS, 15 Nov. – returns the essays with Lord Raglan’s comment; sends his own comment with copies in case she wishes to refer them to Lord Raglan or Dr P. Kaberry; would welcome an extra opinion; thinks J.P. Singh’s essay is ‘derivative’ and V. Reynolds’ more original, but not what is required (autogr.)

5    Ibid., [15 Nov. 1958] – thinks that the only other Hocart Prize to have been awarded was for M. Groves essay published in the JRAI; explains why he thinks J.P. Singh’s attention should be drawn to H.A. Powell’s thesis and no thought should be given to publication; thinks V. Reynold’s essay is human geography rather than anthropology; does not think it appropriate for Man. 4 pp. (autogr.)

6    Ibid., [15 Nov.] – agrees with Lord Raglan that V. Reynolds’ essay does not merit an award; thinks J.P. Singh’s essay deserves an award but should not be published until he has been asked to study Dr H.A. Powell’s thesis; if Lord Raglan disagrees with him, suggests asking the opinion of Dr P. Kaberry who is familiar with Dr Powell’s work. 2 leaves (tp.)

7    MWS to Dr E.R. Leach, 19 Nov. – thanks him for his comments; does not think there is a tradition for printing the essay; there is no Hocart money for this purpose; asks if he would agree to J.P. Singh having the prize with no recommendation for publishing and V. Reynolds submitting a shorter version of his paper to Man; does not wish to bother Miss Kaberry who is very busy (tpc.)

8    Ibid., to Lord Raglan, 19 Nov. – encloses Dr E.R. Leach’s comments on the essays; makes suggestion as above (tpc.)

9    Lord Raglan to MWS, 20 Nov. – will agree to J.P. Singh’s having the prize without recommendation for publication; doubts V. Reynolds could add anything new in an article for Man (tp.)

10    MWS to Lord Raglan, 24 Nov. – confirms that he and Dr E.R. Leach agree that J.P. Singh should get the prize but that his essay should not be published; her idea of asking V. Reynolds to submit an article for Man should be discarded (tpc.); see Council minutes, CM/88/3, 4 Dec. 1958, Item 7, f. 61

11    MWS to J.P. Singh, 4 Dec. – he has been awarded the prize of £20 (tpc.)

12    Ibid., to V. Reynolds, 4 Dec. 1958 – informs him that J.P. Singh, who is going to Afghanistan as a Horniman scholar next year (see A66/16/3) has been awarded the prize; thought his paper interesting; is glad to see him at the Institute’s lectures (tpc.)

6/    Essay submitted by R.G. Abrahams


1    Dr Meyer Fortes to MWS, 30 Oct. 1959 – submits an essay by R.G. Abrahams (tp.)

2    MWS to Dr Meyer Fortes, 4 Nov. – thanks him for thinking of the Hocart Prize but it is only awarded every other year; asks if the essay can be held over (tpc.)

3    Dr Meyer Fortes to MWS, 5 Nov. – thinks it best if she returns the essay (tp.)

The Council minutes of 7 Apr. 1960 review the establishment of the Prize, and it was proposed that the amount of money offered should be raised to £25, and that the Prize should be awarded annually rather than triennially see Council minutes, CM/89/6, 7 Apr. 1960, Item 6, f. 100; it was further agreed that the judges should be appointed in May see Council minutes, CM/89/8, 2 June 1960, Item 8, f. 107

4    ‘To consider the Hocart Bequest Prize’, [? Apr. 1960] – gives brief history of the prize; makes recommendations as above (tpc.)

5    Announcement regarding the Prize, [1960] – the Prize will be offered annually; gives rules (tpc.)

7/    Essay submitted by Semir M. Zeki


1    N.A. Barnicot to MWS, 10 Apr. 1961 – submits an essay by S.M. Zeki (tp.); see Council minutes, CM/90/8, 4 May 1961, Item 9, ff. 132-3

2    A.E. Mourant and H. Lehmann to AHC, 16 June – they recommend that S.M. Zeki’s essay, ‘Taste dimorphism for phenylthiourea and related compounds’ is awarded the prize; it is suitable for publication; suggest some minor alterations (tp.)

3    AHC to S.M. Zeki, 20 June 1961 – informs him that he is to be awarded the Hocart Prize; invites him to a Garden Party (tpc.)

4    S.M. Zeki to AHC, 27 June – thanks him; will come to the Party (autogr.)

8/    Essay submitted by Michael Young


1    Rachel M. Lloyd, Clerk to the Officers to Prof. Raymond Firth, 12 June 1962 – asks if he is willing to act as a judge for the Hocart Prize; Dr Lucy Mair is the other judge; there is only one entry, ‘The role of warfare in primitive society’ (tpc.); see Council minutes, CM/91/9, 7 June 1962, Item 1e, f. 156

2    Ibid., to Dr Burton Benedict, 15 June – is enclosing M. Young’s essay; asks him to pass it to Dr Lucy Mair, his fellow judge (tp.)

3    Lucy Mair and Burton Benedict to AHC, 27 June – they cannot recommend M. Young’s essay for the prize (tp. with annotation by AHC); see Council minutes, CM/92/1, 11 Oct. 1962, Item 1a, f. 158

9/    Essay submitted by Michael Thomson


1    Mary Douglas to AHC, 29 Apr. 1963 – submits an essay by M. Thomson (tp.)

No further records are held, and no awards appear to have been made until 1972 when J.W. Urry claimed the prize with ‘Notes and queries on anthropology and the development of field methods in British anthropology’. Nothing further was awarded until 1983, when J. Creasey submitted ‘Some conceptual confusion in the ethnography of the potlatch’. In 1989 Y. Tokita won with ‘Ritual, time and making sense’.