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On 17 November 2020 Dr Emma Peplow and Dr Priscila Pivatto will be answering questions on their paper: ‘A prep school, 'Dracula's castle', or where they belonged? First impressions of Westminster from the History of Parliament's oral history project’. Their paper is available to view now.

Since 2011 the History of Parliament's oral history project has been interviewing former MPs about their lives and experiences. Dr Peplow and Dr Pivatto have recently published a curated collection of some of the most revealing extracts in The Political Lives of Postwar MPs: An Oral History of Parliament. This paper draws on the collection to explore our interviewees' first memories of Westminster and their initial encounters with the particular culture that exists in Parliament, often hidden from public view. While many interviewees shared expected tropes - 'the first day of Westminster was like the first day of school' is the archetypal response - these memories also demonstrate the value of an oral history of Parliament. Reflections told to our project many years later go beyond brief media interviews or politically-motivated statements and help to reveal how MPs felt on arrival, and their responses to the prevailing culture in the Palace. How each former MP reacted says something about them as an individual, but their collective impressions - and how these changed - tells us about the institution as a whole.

Emma and Priscila are the joint authors of The Political Lives of Postwar British MPs: An Oral History of Parliament (Bloomsbury, 2020)

Emma Peplow is Head of Development of the History of Parliament Trust. After completing a PhD in History at the London School of Economics she has worked in oral history and public engagement roles. Dr Peplow has undertaken hundreds of oral history interviews, overseen several projects, and published or presented findings at academic conferences and in the media.

Priscila Pivatto is Research Associate at the History of Parliament Trust. She has a PhD in Public Law from the University of Sao Paulo. Dr Pivatto has published and presented papers about the history of political thought, parliamentary proceedings and oral history.

The seminar will take the form of a question and answer session based on a pre-circulated presentation.

The paper is available to download here .

If you have any further questions, or you have not received a copy of the paper ahead of the seminar, or you would like to submit a question please contact the conveners at