Paul Oliver

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Paul Oliver (born Paul Hereford Oliver, 25 May 1927, Nottingham, England) is a British architectural historian and writer on the blues and other forms of African-American music.[1][2] His commentary and research into blues have been influential.


Oliver was a researcher at the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (Department of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University), and from 1978-88 was Associate Head of the School of Architecture. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (1999) and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Gloucestershire (2007). He has argued that vernacular architecture will be necessary in the future to "ensure sustainability in both cultural and economic terms beyond the short term." He is well known for his 1997 work Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World. Spanning three volumes and 2500 pages, it includes contributions from researchers from 80 countries. As of 2005, he was at work on a book to be called the World Atlas of Vernacular Architecture.

He is also a leading authority on the blues. His studies of American traditional music did much to spread interest in the blues,[3] and included early research into the influence of Islamic music from North Africa on its origins. His work, which began in the 1950s, includes interviews, field work and research in recording and printed sources tracing the origin and development of African-American music and culture from the time of slavery and before.

Oliver's Collection of African American Music and Related Traditions was established in 2007 with the support of the European Blues Association at the University of Gloucestershire.

Selected bibliography[edit]

Architectural writings

  • Shelter and Society. London. 1969. 
  • Dunroamin: The Suburban Semi and its Enemies. Barrie & Jenkins, London. 1981. 
  • Dwellings: The House Across the World. Phaidon, Oxford. 1987. ISBN 0-7148-2443-7. 
  • Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World. Cambridge University Press. 1997. ISBN 0-521-56422-0. 
  • Built to Meet Needs: Cultural Issues in Vernacular Architecture. Elsevier. 2006. ISBN 0-7506-6657-9. 

Blues books

  • Bessie Smith. Cassell, London. 1959. 
  • Blues Fell this Morning: The Meaning of the Blues. London: Cassell. 1960. ISBN 3-85445-065-6. 
  • Conversation with the Blues. London: Cassell. 1965. ISBN 3-85445-065-6. 
  • Screening the Blues: Aspects of the Blues Tradition. London: Cassell. 1968. ISBN 0-304-93137-3. 
  • The Story of the Blues. London: Barrie & Jenkins. 1969. ISBN 3-85445-092-3.  Selected tracks discussed in the book were issued on a CBS album of the same title
  • Savannah Syncopators: African Retentions in the Blues. London: Studio Vista. 1970. ISBN 0-289-79828-0. 
  • Songsters and Saints: Vocal Traditions on Race Records. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 1984. ISBN 0-521-24827-2. 
  • Blues Off the Record: Thirty Years of Blues Commentary. Tunbridge Wells: Baton Press. 1984. ISBN 0-306-80321-6. 
  • Broadcasting the Blues: Black Blues in the Segregation Era. New York & Abingdon: Routledge. 2006. ISBN 0-415-97177-2. 
  • Barrelhouse Blues: Location Recordings and the Early Traditions of the Blues. London: Basic Civitas. 2009. ISBN 978-0-465-00881-0. 


  1. ^ "Resources - University of Gloucestershire". Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  2. ^ "Paul Oliver". 2001-12-07. Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  3. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 7. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 

External links[edit]