Sunday 19 May 2013

In memoriam

Dr Farancesca Carnevali

It is with great regret and sadness that we announce the death of our colleague Dr Francesca Carnevali. She died peacefully on the morning of Saturday 18th May 2013 after a long illness that she faced with great courage and fortitude. Francesca, born in Italy on 15th February 1964, was amongst the most talented of her generation of business and economic historians. Having taken her PhD at the London School of Economics Francesca went on to obtain a post in Department of History at the University of Birmingham. She published many books, chapters, and articles on a range of subjects, from European banking to industrial districts, trade associations, social capital, and the British and American jewellery industries. Most recently she had been working with Dr Lucy Newton of the University of Reading on the production, marketing, and consumption of household goods in Britain. Her work always displayed the highest qualities of historical scholarship; rigorous, clear-sighted and elegantly written.

Francesca also always showed great collegiality, serving for many years on the Council of the Economic History Society and on its Executive Committee as Chair of the Women’s Committee. She was responsible for organizing the annual conference of the Economic History Association in 2002 and of the Association of Business Historians in 2008. She was at the time of her death Reviews Editor at the Economic History Review and had served as Associate Editor at Enterprise and Society. In so many ways her passing will be a great loss to the international business and economic history communities.

Much more importantly Francesca was a wonderful friend. I vividly remember the first time I met Francesca, when we were programmed together in the same session at the 2001 conference of the Association of Business Historians, held at the University of Portsmouth. I already knew and admired her work but was completely unprepared for the vibrant presence she brought to the room. Sharply intelligent, wickedly funny, bracingly honest, with a finely-honed sense of justice, and fiercely loyal, she was the best of friends to many people, all of whom gladly repaid the warmth and commitment she showed to them. For this she will be truly missed.

Francesca is survived by her beloved husband Paolo Di Martino, also a business historian at the University of Birmingham, her mother Ann, her brother Massimo and two much doted-upon nephews.

Andrew Popp

University of Liverpool


  1. Wonderful words, Andrew. No doubt they will be echoed by many friends and colleagues. Our thoughts are with those who were closest to her.

  2. I feel so sad and moved by what you have written about Francesca- you have written with the sincerity of a true friend. She will not be forgotten

  3. You were my greatest inspiration, and greatest friend, among the scholars of our generation. Your devastating honesty, incredible humour and compassion, and view of academic life as a vocation rather than a profession, never wavered. You remained true to the findings of your research and never sold out. I will miss you, always.

  4. Very very sad news. I have many happy memories of PhD days at the LSE.

  5. Andy, thank you for writing this. I also vividly remember meeting her, I think she was just that kind of person. I feel very privileged to have gotten to know her a little better since I moved to Birmingham, even though I am very sad that she just did not have as much time left as she deserved.

  6. Very sad news. I will never forget her dynamism and the vibrant person that she was. She helped a lot of people and inspired them, including me.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Posted on behalf of Chris and Maggie

    It seems only weeks ago, actually some twenty years, that I was mightily impressed by Francesca's lucidity and sheer ability in putting over her teaching on a MA skills class at the LSE (when I was a HEFCE peer assessor). After that I continued to admire her ability but also her vivaciousness and kindness to so many people. She was a very bright star in the economic and business history firmament. We shall all be losers from the very premature extinguishing of this light. Our thought are with Paolo.

    Chris Wrigley