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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rachael Low (6 July 1923 – 14 December 2014)[1] was a British film historian, best known as the author of the seven-volume The History of the British Film.[2][3]

The daughter of the cartoonist Sir David Low,[4] she gained her BSc in sociology and economics in 1944 from the London School of Economics,[4] and her doctorate from the University of London in 1949. She published, in seven volumes between 1948 and 1985, The History of the British Film; this examines, in exacting detail, film production in Britain from its origins in 1896 until 1939. She was awarded a Research Fellowship by Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, to facilitate her work on the later volumes of the series.[5]

Film critic Matthew Sweet has criticised Low's "tyrannous influence" on the writings of subsequent film historians.[6]


The annual Rachael Low Lecture was established in 2007 in her honour, as part of the British Silent Film Festival.[7] In December 2018, an event was held at the British Film Institute Library to assess her legacy and mark her contribution to the history of early British film.[1]

Principal works

Originally published by George Allen & Unwin, Low's history is now published by Routledge.

  • The History of the British Film 1896–1906 (with Roger Manvell), Allen & Unwin, 1948
  • The History of the British Film 1906–1914, Allen & Unwin, 1948
  • The History of the British Film 1914–1918, Allen & Unwin, 1948
  • The History of the British Film 1918–1929, Allen & Unwin, 1950
  • The History of the British Film 1929–1939: Films of Comment and Persuasion of the 1930s, Allen & Unwin, 1979
  • The History of the British Film 1929–1939: Documentary and Educational films of the 1930s, Allen & Unwin, 1979
  • The History of the British Film: Film Making in 1930s Britain, Allen & Unwin, 1985


  1. ^ a b Burrows, Elaine; McCabe, Janet; Gledhill, Christine (19 December 2018). "Why Rachael Low matters – a tribute to the pioneering British film historian". British Film Institute. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  2. ^ Low, Rachael (ed.) The History of British Film (Volume 1): The History of the British Film 1896–1906; ISBN 978-0-415-67983-1 (2004; reprinted 6 July 2011).
  3. ^ International Who's Who of Authors and Writers 2004. Europa Publications. 2013. p. 341. ISBN 978-1-136-13764-8.
  4. ^ a b Richards, Jeffrey. "Introduction" to Low's The History of British Film 1896–1906, London: Routledge, 1997 [1948], p. v
  5. ^ Low, Rachael. The History of the British Film, Volume V: Documentary and Educational Films of the 1930s. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1979, p. vii
  6. ^ Sweet, Matthew (2006). Shepperton Babylon. Faber and Faber. p. 103.
  7. ^ Robinson, David. "Rachael Low Lecture: Silence is Another Country". Eventful. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
This page was last edited on 15 October 2023, at 05:43
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