OTHER LIVES OTHER WORLDS
In his first incarnation, Bill Albert was an academic. He did his PhD on English turnpike roads and, in 1972 Cambridge University Press published his The Turnpike Roads in England 1663-1840. Having seen a poster for a talk by Charles "Canals" Hadfield and fearing the worst, he switched his attention to Latin America.
After being awarded a Ford Area Fellowship, he spent two years in Peru (1972-74) where he researched and wrote on the Peruvian sugar industry. Judging by its outrageous price, his Essay on the Peruvian Sugar Industry, 1880-1920: And the Letters of Ronald Gordon, Administrator of the British Sugar Company in Canete, 1914-20 seems to have become something of a collector's item. In order to address this insane price, he has put the book into a free pdf. For a copy please contact Bill directly
He has written numerous articles and two books on Latin America, only one, South America and the First World War:The Impact of the War on Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile, published in 1988, is still in print
After taking (by accident) a creative writing course with Malcolm Bradbury and Rose Tremain, he decided to try his hand at writing novels. This, among other things, encouraged him to flee academic life in 1992.
From the late 1980s he has been active in the disability movement. He was chair of the Norwich Access Group, and then in 1995 helped found the Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People (now Equal Lives), which he chaired until 2002 and then returned to manage as CEO from 2006 until 2009.
He also chaired the International Committee of the British Council of Disabled People from 1997 to 2000, when he helped formulate the BCODP's policy on human genetics and disability. He did similiar work as chair of the Bioethics Committee of Disabled Peoples' International Europe. He was appointed to the UK Government's Human Genetics Commission in 1999 and served until 2005.
With a grant from the Wellcome Trust's Engaging Science Programme, he, together with the late Helen Caplan, held a series of workshops with disabled people on bioethics, disability and human rights. Out of this they produced Disability and bioethics. Life and death questions. A resource pack for trainers in 2004. An newly edited version, Disability and Bioethics, was put out in 2010. It is available here as a free download.
During these years he also worked as a consultant on disability and development co-operation for the UK's Department for International Development (DFID). He was research director of DFID's Disability Knowledge and Research Programme and in 2006 edited In or out of the mainstream? Lessons from research on disability and development cooperation.