2nd Lieutenant, 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters.
Died 12th August 1916, age 28.
Buried in Vermelles British Cemetery, France.
Former junior assistant lecturer in history.
Mark, born in 1888, was educated at Manchester Grammar School and at the Victoria University of Manchester, where he graduated with first-class honours in history (1909). During his time as an undergraduate, he had been awarded the Hulme Scholarship in 1906 and the Bradford Scholarship in 1908, the University’s highest undergraduate distinction in history.
Between 1910 and 1912, Mark was employed by the University as a junior assistant lecturer in history with special charge of Workers’ Education Association (W.E.A.) tutorial classes associated with the University’s extra-mural programme.
His research interests included military history (particularly the Napoleonic wars), but on election to the University’s Langton Fellowship in 1911 he devoted himself to an original study of the Chartist movement. In 1912-13 he was assistant lecturer in English history at the University of Leipzig, Institut für Kultur- und Universalgeschichte (Institute for Culture and Universal History).
After his period in Germany, Mark spent a year in London furthering his research on Chartism while at the same time working for the W.E.A. He was completing work on his study of Chartism during the summer of 1914, but the outbreak of war disrupted these plans; Mark was gazetted in July 1915, serving as an officer in the Sherwood Foresters, (Nottingham and Derby Regiment) from August 1915. He married his fiancée, Francis Gately, on 3 June 1916, and was sent to France on 12 July 1916 where he was attached to a regular battalion of his regiment.
Before leaving for France, Mark discussed his manuscript on Chartism with his friend and mentor, Professor Thomas Tout, and requested that, should anything happen to him, Tout would see the book through to publication.
Mark died on the evening of 12 August 1916, at Vermelles on the Western Front, while rescuing a fellow soldier from the fumes of a mine explosion. His manuscript, The Chartist Movement, was completed for posthumous publication by Tout, and published by the University of Manchester Press in 1918. Mark’s study of Chartism was pioneering for its time, and contributed enormously to the wider study of nineteenth century political, economic and social history.
The Mark Hovell Memorial Prize was founded by his widow in 1918, and since 1919 has been awarded by the University to the best undergraduate who has completed the first year of their history degree.
As part of the Manchester Histories Festival and the University of Manchester’s First World War series, a special event marking the centenary of Mark’s death – ‘Manchester Soldier, Manchester Historian: Exploring the Life and Legacy of Mark Hovell’ – was held at the People’s History Museum on 9 June 2016. This event, attended by members of Mark’s family, served as an opportunity to reflect on his life and work, and included talks from several speakers: Dr Chris Godden (University of Manchester) opened the event with a short overview of Mark’s life; Professor Ian Wood (University of Leeds) discussed Mark’s experiences at the University of Leipzig working with the controversial historian, Karl Gotthard Lamprecht; Professor Malcolm Chase (University of Leeds) explored Mark’s approach to the history of Chartism and the legacy of his posthumously published work; Dr Henry Miller (University of Manchester) talked about Mark’s approach to historical research; and Dr Michael Sanders (University of Manchester) re-evaluated Mark’s history of Chartism using the literary concepts of narrative, character, and themes.