Julian Alfred Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers

Julian Alfred Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers (16 March 1919, Chelsea, London – 12 August 2001, Paris) was a British social anthropologist, an ethnographer, and a professor at universities in three countries.[1]

Pitt-Rivers was a great-grandson of the archaeologist Augustus Pitt Rivers. His father was the anthropologist and propertied aristocrat George Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers and his mother, Emily Rachel Forster, was an actress and daughter of the governor-general of Australia, the 1st Baron Forster. Through his work as an ethnographer of empathic considerations for cultural diversity, he rebelled against his father. George Pitt-Rivers was, at one point, a Moselyite eugenicist who was interned by the British government in the early years of World War II.[2]

Pitt-Rivers attended Eton College and Worcester College, Oxford. He received his doctorate in 1953, which was derived from his fieldwork in Andalusia, Spain, that led to his publication of the classic anthropological text The People of the Sierra in 1954. The introduction was provided by his Oxford professor, E. E. Evans-Pritchard. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Chicago in the United States. In addition, he taught at the London School of Economics and several universities in France, including the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris in what would later become the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.

Pitt-Rivers was married three times. His first wife, whom he married on 17 August 1946, was Pauline Laetitia Tennant, daughter of actress Hermione Baddeley. They divorced in 1953. In 1955, he married Margareita de Lazales; they divorced in 1971. His third wife, whom he married in 1971, was Françoise Geoffroy, who survived him. He had no children. During his last years, he was afflicted by dementia that set in nearly five years before his death in 2001 and while he was still producing excellent work.[3]


  • Pitt-Rivers, Julian. The fate of Shechem:or, The politics of sex: essays in the anthropology of the Mediterranean. Cambridge [Eng.]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977.
  • Pitt-Rivers, Julian, Ed., Mediterranean countrymen;essays in the social anthropology of the Mediterranean, Paris: Mouton, 1963.
  • Pitt-Rivers, Julian Alfred, The people of the Sierra. Introd. by E. E. Evans-Pritchard. New York: Criterion Books, 1954.


Further reading

  • Benthall, Jonathan. ", August 25, 2001.
  • Corbin, John. "The Guardian, September 14, 2001.
  • Freeman, Susan Tax. "Julian A. Pitt-Rivers (1919–2001): [Obituary]", American Anthropologist. Vol. 106, No. 1. (2004), pp. 216–218.
  • "Julian Pitt-Rivers: Obituary", The Times, September 12, 2001.

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