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Arthur F. Dimmock

AFDbook.JPGWith great sadness, Arthur F. Dimmock MBE passed away yesterday morning, he was 89 years old.

He was a true Deaf giant, who authored and co-authored a number of publications including Muted Passion, Tommy: A Biography of Distinguished Deaf Royal Painter, MHGS Trivia, Fairbairn, Cruel Legacy, A. J. Wilson: Otherwise Faed, Venerable Legacy, Cochlear Implants. He had a longstanding column "Girdle Around the Earth" in British Deaf News.

He was President of the National Union of the Deaf and British Deaf History Society among many other posts.

AFD was a person who commanded enormous respect, even though he probably scared people with his fingerspelling abilities. Many an interpreter would fear for voicing over for him, and these tales alone meant his name went before him. I loved watching his stories, all bearing a rich culture.

The UK has lost a truly great person, who helped lay a great foundation for future generations of Deaf people. Thank you AFD for all you've given us, our thoughts are with your family and close friends.

Comments (11)

Being in the US, I never had the chance to meet Mr. Dimmock but your description shows a brilliant leader and one to admire. I hope there are videos preserving his heritage for future generations -- with the cost of video being so miniscule today, I see no reason that Deaf people should not preserve their life history for others to "read" and emulate.


I was shocked and sadden to find out about the late AFD, as he was well known in the Deaf community and fondly spoken of within my family. We all knew him for his monthly column in the British Deaf News magazines and his intelligence!
I hope that the future generations will remember him.
Forever rest in peace

A really unusual person for a member of the Deaf community. I am glad to have met him as he crystallised my view of the Deaf community by his often abtruse observations.

Vale, Arthur

I am glad to know that AFD now is recognized as a giant figure in the Deaf world. In response to my email via Deafacademics, Joesph Santini has announced that he will plan to have AFD's biography written. Good news! AFD should be included in any international Deaf History.

I was referred to your blog by Joseph Santini who wrote with high regards for Arthur Dimmock at DeafAcademics. Thank you for sharing the information about Mr. Dimmock on your blog. I know how much the Brits must have missed him.

I hope you will, henceforth, write about deaf leaders in Great Britain.
Again, thank you.

Jean Boutcher

i hve been on two holidays with mr Dimmock and his lovely wife ...i am tottally deaf,and had never met other deaf people before,so could not sign..but am good at lip reading( self taught)....contact with mr Dimmock and his group..did so much for my self confidence...the holidays i took were to Grado in Italy and on a cruise.....best holidays ever... and for once. was not on my own...great to be in a cheerfu lively gr oup of folks...i do hope anyone might remember me ...LAURIE...i have very fond memories of Mr Jim Beverly and hs wife Winnie.

Watch out for See Hear this wednesday which is doing a tribute to the life of AFD!!!

This may have been widely known already, but I've just seen this obituary for Arthur on The Scotsman website. Good to see a mainstream newspaper paying due respect to AFD - did any of the English national newspapers carry it?

From The Scotsman Obituaries 10 January 2008

Arthur Dimmock
Journalist and champion of causes for the deaf
Born: 1918, in Whitley Bay, Northumberland.
Died: 25 November, 2007, in Hayling Island, Hampshire, aged 89.

ARTHUR Dimmock, MBE, was a largely self-taught, multi-talented man who always referred to himself as deaf and dumb, proud of his achievements in areas that many, wrongly, assume are closed to profoundly deaf people. At various times a cabinetmaker, photographer, tourist courier and writer he first became prominent as a journalist of deaf sport.

At school, he learned the importance of independent and self-directed study. His gift for languages enabled him to establish long-standing links with overseas deaf leaders such as John Lovet and Eugene Rubens Alcais, founding fathers of what is now the international Deafylimpics. His world links expanded, enabling him to promote the Review, a magazine on deaf aspects of world sport, politics and news in general. This led to an offer to join the staff of British Deaf News, where his regular column gained him recognition as the foremost deaf journalist in Europe, if not the world.

His linguistic background was unusual in that he was a firm advocate of bilingual education for deaf people, with a strong emphasis on the importance of written English. He regarded spoken English as irrelevant and, unusual among his community, never uttered a single word, preferring rapid finger-spelling in English to sign language. This arose from his acquisition of language from his mother, Eleanor, who mastered the finger alphabet and showed him a meaningful vocabulary by spelling the names of actions and relationships, not solely objects, as they arose in everyday life. From her, Arthur acquired his love of language and his fabulous skill in finger-spelling, which, with his mischievous penchant for polysyllabic inserts, was the bane of sign language interpreters.

By the age of seven he had acquired a vocabulary well above the average child of the same age and in 1925 he was admitted to the Northern Counties School for the Deaf and Dumb in Newcastle, luckily for him before the ill-advised ban on manual communication was widely imposed.

Arthur was offered a place to study fine arts at Durham University. Unfortunately, no-one would then fund a deaf and dumb student and his family could not support him. He became an apprentice cabinetmaker, specialising in the restoration of antique furniture.

In 1938, he bought a one-way ticket to London and scraped a hard living doing a variety of menial jobs before eventually finding skilled work as a cabinetmaker.

While the Second World War raged, Arthur married Jean Norman, from Ware, Hertfordshire. He was then directed to essential war work at a dock at Greenock, until 1942, when he returned to pass his London Matriculation and to begin a long happy marriage. In 1948, they were blessed with a hearing daughter, Cassandra, who grew up with a rich linguistic milieu. Arthur then became more involved with the deaf clubs in the London area and was sports secretary to the Croydon Club, spending his time in sporting events and writing for the British Deaf Times.

Formally remembered as a journalist and writer, Arthur Dimmock was this and much more. His impassioned account of the story of eugenic injustice in the case of Junius Wilson, a deaf black man in the United States legally castrated but later pardoned and compensated, shows him as a champion of minority causes.

His champion instincts came to fruition during the political activity surrounding the use of manual communication in the education of deaf children, beginning in the 1970s. Arthur was a leading activist, constantly writing and declaiming to meetings and conferences for the removal of the ban on manual languages. He was one of the founding members of the National Union of the Deaf and later its president. He was constantly invited by the Scottish Workshop for the Deaf to give presentations at their meetings, and his visits are a fond memory, not only for their intellectual and political impact but for some unforgettable creative personal and social moments.

Some of his most substantial works were published under the auspices of Scottish Workshop Publications, namely Tommy (a biography of his friend AR Thomson, the Royal Painter and a selector at the Royal Academy), Introspections of a Deaf Mind, Hand of Time, Sporting Heritage and his influential Cruel Legacy, the record of deaf people in history. For this he was invested as honorary life president of SWD.

Arthur was among the founders of the British Deaf History Society and he wrote many works under its logo, not least of which was his autobiography, Muted Passion, in which he described himself as an incorrigible optimist.

He was elected to the executive council of the British Deaf Association and at the 1992 Blackpool Congress was awarded the BDA Gold Medal of Honour for his 50 years of service to t he British deaf community.

In 1995, Arthur was invested with the MBE for services to deaf people.

In July 2000, Jean died. They had been married for 57 years. In October of that year the University of Wolverhampton awarded Arthur an honorary degree of doctor of arts.

Arthur spent his remaining months in a nursing home on Hayling Island, Hampshire. He was well looked after but was not happy as, due to the restrictions of his illness, his writing was much reduced. His celebrated "Girdle" column did not appear in British Deaf News for the first time in 63 years, and one of his last contributions to Deaf History Review entitled "Ear is King" showed an uncharacteristic glimpse of pessimism about the deaf condition.

We are all unique, but Arthur Dimmock was an outstandingly unique man. He was admired and respected nationally and internationally by many deaf and hearing people.

i have never heard of Arthur Dimmock but i have got to study about him in my school coursework, what is he really are like? email me (Y)

i really need to pass my coursework and get a good grade and i'm deaf too thank you

@Jasmine - would suggest you try and get the autobiography, 'Muted Passion'. You might find this on the BDHS website, plus more information.

my friend needs to find some information for her courswork about Arthur Dimmock. She really wants to get a good grade so that her parents will allow her to go out with her boyfriend. Please help her, i can't stand seeing her so miserable...she really needs this courswork finished or she will end up a year behind. thank you for your help x x

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