Richard Hoggart was born in Leeds, United Kingdom, on 24 September 1918. He studied at Leeds University from 1936 to 1940. His Masters of Arts thesis there was interrupted when he was drafted for service in the Second World War. After the war, from 1946 to 1959, he was a Tutor at University College, Hull, and then a Senior Tutor at Hull University. It was during this period that he published the work for which he is most known, The Uses of Literacy (1956). In 1959, he moved to the University of Leicester to accept a position as a Senior Lecturer in English. He became Professor of English at University of Birmingham in 1962 where he also became the first Director of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies.
Hoggart was asked to be a member of the Culture Advisory Committee of the UK National Commission for UNESCO from 1966 to 1970. As such, he attended the 1966 and 1968 General Conferences as part of the UK delegation. He was also an observer at the 1969 Meeting of Experts to Prepare the 1970 Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies.
Hoggart joined UNESCO in February 1970, accepting an appointment as Assistant Director-General of Social Sciences, Human Sciences and Culture (SHC). During his tenure, the SHC Sector’s work included activities on: human rights and action against racism; population studies including activities for the World Population Year; the strengthening of social sciences in developing countries, including the establishment of regional social science centres; preparatory activities for the International Women’s Year; culture and environment studies; study of cultures; the General History of Africa; the series of regional Intergovernmental Conferences on Cultural Policies; continued international campaigns on the safeguarding of cultural heritage as well as the passing of the Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972); and, cultural development and the launching of an International Fund for the Promotion of Culture.
Hoggart wrote about his experience at UNESCO in the memoires ‘An Idea and its Servants: UNESCO from within’ (1978) and ‘An Imagined Life’ (1993), where he mentions in particular the impressions left by the missions he undertook. In ‘An Imagined Life’, Hoggart further writes about two key projects during the last period he was at UNESCO. For the first project SHC was charged with preparing the report 'The National education and the cultural life of peoples in the occupied Arab territories' that was requested by the 17th Session of the General Conference and presented to the 18th Session. The second project Hoggart references is UNESCO’s work on the preservation of the physical environment and cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley.
After his time at UNESCO, Hoggart became Warden of Goldsmith’s College, University of London. He held this post until his retirement in 1984. He also served on the Communications Advisory Committee to the UK National Commission for UNESCO from 1977 to 1979. Over the course of his career, he acted as a member or as an executive officer of many other committees, such as the following UK bodies: Governor, Royal Shakespeare Company (1962–1988); Arts Council of Great Britain (1976–1981); Chairman, Advisory Council for Adult and Continuing Education (1977–1983); and Vice-Chairman, Unesco Forum (1997-2008).
Hoggart died 10 April 2014.