The original desire for this history arose from the realisation that the Society was reaching its 25th. birthday, and the intention was that the then I.S.N. historian (Henry McIlwain) would write it. His response to that invitation was that he would be pleased to do so, in co-operation with myself and with the help of Elizabeth Bock. His untimely death resulted in the task being delegated to Elizabeth and myself. As we discussed it, we quickly became aware that there had to be a choice between a multi-author compilation of the views and recollections of those intimately involved in the affairs of the Society, or to try to present a cohesive account written by one person. Therefore the account which follows must perforce be a personal one, and does not reflect the views of the past or present Officers of the Society. I have tried to present a lively history which reflects the spirit and feelings of those great men who generated what has now become a vital and successful Society, rather than a chronicle of events.
An eminent English historian (A.J.P. Taylor) observed, in his Origins of the Second World War, that no objective history can be written until at least 25 years after the events - I hope the account which follows is faithful to that principle. I (with a great amount of help from friends and colleagues listed below) have checked the sources as thoroughly as I can, but the early records remain incomplete, despite the efforts of our historians to collect and collate them for the I.S.N.archives. "The history of the world is but the biography of great men" (Thomas Carlyle) - perusing the archives serves to confirm this. Minutes and anecdotes are written by individuals to the best of their notes and recollections, and the records attributed to different individuals about the same incidents reflects their own sometimes differing personal interpretations. I have tried to present a balanced account of the times when the development of the Society was sometimes stormy but usually peaceful and constructive, and am grateful to the following colleagues for responding to requests for anecdotes, recollections, memorabilia and photographs : Bernie Agranoff, Alan Boulton, Frode Fonnum, Tim Hawthorne, Les Iversen, Graham Johnston, Elling Kvamme, Abel Lajtha, Henry McIlwain+, Paul Mandel+, Derek Richter, Donald Tower and Victor Whittaker. I am grateful also to Tim Hawthorne for his constructive comments, to Elizabeth Bock for her comments and help in organizing the manuscript, and to Professor Graham Collingridge for allowing easy access to Henry McIlwain's archives at Birmingham during his illness and after he passed away. Apart from the archives, I have drawn on the historical articles of Folch-Pi (1980) McIlwain (1985, 1990, 1991), Page (1937) and Tower (1958, 1981,1987) .
The first history of the Society was Jordi Folch-Pi's summary of its origins and activities which were included in the Membership Directory of 1979-80. Unfortunately he died just before it appeared and it has been reproduced in modified and updated form in 5 succeeding Membership Directories. A more detailed history of the I.S.N. was written to commemorate its first 20 years by Henry McIlwain (1985). Although this is a history of an academic society, there were many earlier threads which generated the need for such a society and are therefore described briefly.
+Sadly two of them died during the writing of this history.