Additional papers of Roger Bannister and Moyra Bannister
Correspondence from the early married life of Roger and Moyra Bannister, as well as diaries, notebooks, including notebooks illustrated by Moyra Bannister, sporting memorabilia and honours granted to Roger Bannister, including cinders taken from the finishing line of the sub-four minute mile race, and films.
- Creation: 1949-2017, n.d.
0.39 Linear metres (7 boxes)
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish material must be obtained from the rights holder.
Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 22723/1].
Full range of shelfmarks:
Collection ID (for staff)
CMD ID 22723, 22796
Correspondence from the early married life of Roger and Moyra Bannister, as well as diaries, notebooks, memorabilia and honours.
Biographical / Historical
Sir Roger Bannister (1929-2018), middle-distance runner, neurologist, and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford.
In 1946 at the age of seventeen Roger Bannister came to Exeter College at Oxford University to study medicine. He served as president of the Oxford University Athletic Club, leading the club on a tour of American colleges in the summer 1949 and instigating the redevelopment and resurfacing of the Iffley road track where he later won a world record.
In 1949, in his first international athletic event representing Britain, Bannister finished third in the European Championships 800m final. In 1952, he concentrated all his effort on the Olympics in Helsinki but despite beating the British record, he finished fourth.
Bannister decided to aim instead at the mile record. On 6 May 1954, at a meeting between Oxford University and the Amateur Athletic Association at the University's Iffley Road track, Bannister (competing under the AAA banner) crossed the line at 3:59.4, smashing the world record and running the first ever sub-four-minute mile.
Instantly, internationally famous, Bannister was sent by the Foreign Office on a tour of America, while also finding time to qualify as a doctor, but 46 days later his world record was broken by rival John Landy. In August 1954, Bannister and Landy met in one of the most anticipated races of the century at the British Empire Games (now called the Commonwealth Games) in Vancouver. The 'Miracle Mile' put Bannister's famous finishing kick on full display. Bannister won the race, beating his own British record with a time of 3:58.8, but Landy retained the world record.
On 11 June 1955, Bannister married the Swedish artist Moyra Elver Jacobsson (b. 1928), daughter of Per Jacobsson (who became managing director of the International Monetary Fund). She studied at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford and a number of her paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy’s summer shows and at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. From 1963 to 1967 she served as a member of the government appointed Plowden Committee on primary school education. They had four children.
Bannister practiced clinical medicine in neurology at St. Mary's Hospital in London and the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases. He did his national service with the Royal Army Medical Corps in Aden from 1957-1959, which included writing an important report on preventing heat illness.
(For further information see the Dictionary of National Biography.)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Deposited by the Bannister family and accepted by HM Government in Lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Bodleian Library, 2023. With thanks to Erin Bannister Townsend for her assistance.
- Catalogue of additional papers of Roger Bannister and Moyra Bannister
- Charlotte McKillop-Mash
- Language of description
- Script of description