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Obituary: Bryan Wilson

It is sad to have to report the death, on 9 October 2004, of Dr Bryan Wilson, a former member of the University staff.

Dr Wilson was one of the worlds leading sociologists of religion, whose studies of secularisation and religious sects have become classics. Born in Leeds in 1926, Dr Wilson left school at 14, and became an office boy on the Yorkshire Post. After completing his national service, he matriculated and went to University College, Leicester, where he read for the BSc (Econ) degree of the University of London.

Having graduated with First Class Honours in 1952, Dr Wilson was awarded a Gerstenberg studentship to undertake research at the LSE on Christadelphians, Elim Pentecostals and Christian Scientists. He was awarded his PhD in 1955, and took up an Assistant Lectureship in Sociology in the Department of Social Studies at Leeds in October of that year. He was promoted to Lecturer in 1957, and also served as Sub-Warden, later Warden, of Sadler Hall.

Dr Wilson resigned from Leeds in September 1962 to take up appointment as Reader in Sociology at the University of Oxford. He became a Fellow of All Souls College in the following year. Dr Wilson was to spend the rest of his academic career at Oxford, when he continued to add to his reputation as a scholar of the highest distinction. His publications include Sects and Society (1961), Religion in Secular Society (1966), Religious Sects (1970), Magic and the Millennium (1973) and The social dimensions of sectarianism (1990). In 1994, Dr Wilson was awarded a DLitt by Oxford and elected a Fellow of the British Academy. He also held Honorary Doctorates from Soka University in Japan and the University of Leuven.

A full obituary appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 19 October.

Published: 25 October 2004