CMC, Disability Studies and Educational Counselling/Advising

Debenham, M. 1996a. Barriers to Study for Open University Students with Long-term Health Problems: A Survey; Student Research Centre Report No. 105. Milton Keynes: Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University.

Debenham, M. 1996b. DOORway (Disabilities, Opportunities and OutReach): Interactive Computer Conferencing System which provides Peer Group Support in Distance Learning. In Proceedings of Interdisciplinary Aspects of Computers Helping People with Special Needs '96 (ICCHP'96), Eds. Klaus, J., Auff, E., Kremser, W., Zagler, L. Vol 1, pp 183-7. 2 vols. Linz, Austria: R. Oldenbourg, Wien, München.

A .pdf of the ‘last version before submission’ is available

Debenham, M., Whitelock, D.M., Fung, P., Emms, J.M. 1999. On-line Educational Counselling for Students with Special Needs: Building Rapport. In ALT-J Vol.7 No. 1 pp 19-25. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. (Abstract available here in .pdf format)


Debenham, M. 2001. Computer Mediated Communication and Disability Support: Addressing Barriers to Study for Undergraduate Distance Learners with Long-term Health Problems. Doctoral thesis. Milton Keynes: The Open University. (Authors note 27 June 2016: The full text is now available for download via the Open University Open Research Online (ORO) website

Debenham, M. 2002. Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) and Disability Support: Addressing Barriers to Study. York: TechDis. (A full text copy of the paper may be downloaded here, posted with the permission of the Higher Education Academy since the TechDis site is no longer available)

Newell, C. and Debenham, M. 2005. Disability, Chronic Illness and Distance Education. In Encyclopaedia of Distance Learning: Distance Learning, Technologies and Applications, Vol 1, pp 591-598. Ed. Rogers, P.L. Hershey, PA. USA: Idea Group Inc. DOI:


Distance education may be seen as both enabling and disabling in its application to, and relationship with, people with disability and chronic illness. Cutting-edge work suggests that it can provide a suitable route to support the studies of students with disabilities and those with long-term health problems. However, it is important that this should be regarded in terms of providing choice to students rather than requiring those who are identified as having impairment/chronic illness to undertake studies at a distance. Unless well designed and evaluated, as with any technology, DE can also become disabling in its impact (Goggin & Newell, 2003; Newell & Walker, 1992).

Debenham, M. 2007. Epistolary Interviews On-line: A Novel Addition to the Researcher's Palette. York: TechDis. (A full text copy of the paper may be downloaded here, posted with the permission of the Higher Education Academy since the TechDis site is no longer available)

Newell, C. and Debenham, M. 2007. Disability, Chronic Illness and Distance Education. In Online and Distance Learning: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications, Chapter 7.22, pp 3241-3250. Ed. Tomei, L. Hershey, New York: Information Science Reference.

Newell, C. and Debenham, M. 2009. Disability, Chronic Illness and Distance Education. In Encyclopedia of Distance Learning (2nd Edition) Vol. II Det-Inn, pp 646 - 654; Eds. Rogers, P., Berg, G., Boettcher, J., Howard, C., Justice, L., Schenk, K. Hershey, New York: Information Science Reference. DOI:

[This article is a revised and updated version of that published in the 2005 edition, cited above. Sadly my colleague and co-author Associate Professor Christopher Newell of the University of Tasmania died in June 2008, after it had been accepted but before its final publication. In December 2007 Christopher was recipient of the Tasmanian Human Rights award "For services to people with disability over many years, particularly through advocacy and research." His presence is greatly missed.]

Historical Musicology

George S. Bozarth and Margaret Debenham, in collaboration with David Cripps, 2009. ‘Piano Wars: The Legal Machinations of London Pianoforte Makers, 1795-1806 in The Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle Vol. 42. London: Royal Musical Association, 45-108. ISSN 1472-3808. DOI:

[Award: The authors were jointly awarded the Frances Densmore Prize for 2011 by the American Musical Instrument Society for the above article. The citation “honors the most outstanding article on musical instruments, written in English, during calendar 2009”.]


In the years 1801–6 a series of lawsuits were filed in various London courts involving many of England's top piano manufacturers. Swirling around a lawsuit by the Anglo-Irish piano inventor William Southwell against John and James Shudi Broadwood for infringement of his seminal 1794 patent were actions involving the opportunistic James Longman, his brother John Longman, his partner Francis Fane Broderip, and his successors, Muzio Clementi & Co., as well as George Astor, the firm of Culliford, Rolfe & Barrow, August Leukfeld, and George Wilkinson. In this article the authors reconstruct the issues and outcomes of these legal actions and their ramifications for William Southwell, who emerges as a victim of his own inventive success, and the nascent English piano industry. We draw upon the original court papers, as well as a family memoir of Southwell, the parish record of his burial in 1825, the 1802 partnership agreement of Southwell & Co., contemporary newspaper notices, prison records, apprenticeship records, the wills of several of the makers, and newly located original drawings and descriptions for patents by Southwell (1794) and his son, William junior (1837), held at The National Archives, Kew.

Margaret Debenham and Michael Cole, 2013: ‘Pioneer Piano Makers in London, 1737–1774: newly discovered documentary sources’ in The Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle Vol. 44. Issue 1 Abingdon: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 55-86.


The most historically significant and widely influential pianoforte designs, both for use in public concerts and for domestic music making, first appeared in the later 1760s, mostly as the work of immigrant German-born craftsmen working in London. But their work was preceded by a handful of pioneering instrument makers whose lives have been largely unreported until now. In this paper the authors report on the life and work of three such immigrant craftsmen who made pianofortes and related instruments in London in the period 1740–65. Two of them, Roger Plenius and Herman Viator, met with great personal misfortunes, while the other, Frederick Neubauer, crowned his career with a great triumph which has never been widely reported, though unhappily not one of his instruments is known to survive. The authors’ findings are drawn from newly located contemporary newspaper notices and original manuscripts held at The National Archives, Kew and the Bancroft Library, London.

Margaret Debenham, 2014. 'Joseph Merlin in London, 1760–1803: the Man behind the Mask. New Documentary Sources' in The Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle,
Vol. 45, Abingdon: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. Issue 1, 130-163.

Joseph Merlin (1735–1803), ‘Ingenious Mechanick’, musical-instrument maker and flamboyant showman, is perhaps best remembered for his Museum in Princes Street, London, with its scintillating displays of automata and extraordinary inventions. Two newly identified sets of Court documents, Nicholl v. Merlin, 1779 and Merlin v. Celsson, 1779–81, now provide insights into previously unknown aspects of his business dealings and personal life. The former concerns a dispute over a house that Merlin commissioned to be built in 1776, the latter a violation of his 1774 combined harpsichord-pianoforte patent rights. Material relating to Lavigne Verel, his musical instrument foreman from 1773 to 1781, is also reported. Amongst other novel findings, perhaps the most surprising is Merlin’s marriage in 1783. Contemporary primary-source material consulted includes original manuscripts held at The National Archives, UK, the Scone Palace Archives, Parish Registers, Land Tax and Apprenticeship records and numerous contemporary newspaper advertisements and notices.

Margaret Debenham and Michael Cole. 'Marquetry Cabinets containing Newly Fashionable Pianofortes made in Eighteenth–Century London: the cabinet maker’s pianoforte – or the pianoforte maker’s cabinet?' in The London Journal  Vol.43, Issue 3, 2018: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 289-311



Two beautifully constructed ‘commodes’ [cabinets] attributed to Christopher Fuhrlohg, each containing a pianoforte signed by Frederick Beck survive, one in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight and the other in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (‘Commode’: an eighteenth-century French term for a storage cabinet — not, as in modern parlance, a chair containing a chamber pot). In the former the pianoforte is inscribed ‘Fredericus Beck Londini fecit 1775’; the name board of the latter is similarly inscribed and dated 1777. Earlier researchers have suggested that Beck commissioned Fuhrlohg to make the cases to house these instruments; however, their shape renders them impractical for the player. Why, one must ask, would a musical instrument maker adopt such a seemingly illogical approach? A more plausible explanation is that the reverse situation applies and that Fuhrlohg obtained these instruments from Beck for insertion into his cabinets, these being designed primarily as decorative pieces, suitable to grace the homes of wealthy patrons. This hypothesis is supported by newspaper advertisements placed by Fuhrlohg in 1776 and 1784.

Other newly identified biographical materials include clear evidence of Beck’s presence in London as early as 1762; an extant example of an early pianoforte bearing his name, dated 1769; and the wills of both men, which firmly establish the dates of their respective deaths and provide new insights into their circumstances

Book Review

Margaret Debenham, 2021. 'Geoffrey Lancaster: Culliford Rolfe and Barrow: a tale of ten pianos' (University of Western Australia, 2017) in Harpsichord and Fortepiano: Vol.25. No.2, 41-2. ISSN:1463-0036

Dictionary Entries

Margaret Debenham, 2014. 'Roger Plenius' in The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, 2nd Edition, Vol. 4. Oxford: New York: Oxford University Press.

Margaret Debenham and Patrick Geoghegan, 2021. 'Southwell, William' in The Dictionary of Irish Biography, on-line edition. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy: (DOI: - currently awaiting implementation)

Conference presentation

Debenham, M. 2016. Frederick Beck, pianoforte-maker and Christopher Fuhrlohg, cabinet-maker and inlayer: newly identified documentary sources. Conference presentation at ‘Made in London’: Makers, designers and innovators in musical instrument making in London, from the 18th to 21st centuries. London Metropolitan University, 28 May 2016.

Web Publications

Debenham, M. (2011). 131 Cheapside: The Longman Connection.
Margaret Debenham: website publication (

Debenham, M. (2012). 131 Cheapside: The Longman Connection: Postscript.
Margaret Debenham: website publication (

Debenham, M. (2011). Southwell Brothers Photographers Royal: History of the Business (1857–1883). M J Debenham: Southwell History website publication (

Debenham, M. (2013). William Southwell (1736/7–1825): Anglo–Irish Musical Instrument Inventor and Maker – an extraordinary life. M Debenham: Southwell History website publication (

Debenham, M. (2018) Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779): musical instrument connections and new insights. Article 7. New Resources page, Margaret Debenham: website publication (


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