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Historiography of the United Kingdom

The Historiography of the United Kingdom Includes the historical and archival research and writing on the history of the United Kingdom, Great Britain, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales For studies of the overseas empire see Historiography of the British Empire


  • 1 Medieval
  • 2 Tudor-Stuart
    • 21 Puritanism and the Civil War
  • 3 18th century
    • 31 William Robertson
    • 32 David Hume
    • 33 Edward Gibbon
  • 4 19th century
    • 41 Whig history
    • 42 Macaulay
    • 43 County and local history
    • 44 Archives and documents
  • 5 20th century
    • 51 Prominent historians
    • 52 Professionalization
    • 53 Class issues: Middle class & gentry
    • 54 Marxist historians
  • 6 Since 1945
    • 61 First World War
    • 62 Prominent historians
      • 621 Arnold Toynbee and world history
      • 622 Keith Feiling the conservative
      • 623 A J P Taylor
      • 624 Hugh Trevor-Roper The essayist
    • 63 Political history
      • 631 Postwar consensus
    • 64 Business history
    • 65 Urban history
      • 651 Deindustrialization
    • 66 New themes
      • 661 Women's history
      • 662 History of Parliament
      • 663 History of the state
    • 67 Digital history
  • 7 See also
    • 71 Special topics
    • 72 Prominent historians
  • 8 Scholarly journals
  • 9 Organisations
  • 10 Notes
  • 11 Further reading
    • 111 Period guides
    • 112 Topics
    • 113 Historians
    • 114 Medieval
    • 115 1485-1800
    • 116 Since 1800
    • 117 Scotland
    • 118 Empire and foreign policy
  • 12 External links


Depiction of the Venerable Bede from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493 Main article: Historians of England in the Middle Ages

Gildas, a fifth century monk, was the first major historian of England His De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae Latin for "The Ruin and conquests Conquest of Britain" records the downfall of the Britons at the hands of Saxon invaders, emphasizing God's anger and providential punishment of an entire nation, in an echo of Old Testament themes His work has often been used by later historians, starting with Bede1

Venerable Bede 673–735, an English monk was the most influential historian of the Anglo-Saxon era In his day and in modern England He borrowed from Gildas and others in writing The Ecclesiastical History of the English People Latin: "Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum" He saw English history as a unity, based around the Christian church NJ Higham argues he designed his work to promote his reform agenda to Ceolwulf, the Northumbrian king Bede painted a highly optimistic picture of the current situation in the Church2

Numerous chroniclers prepared detailed accounts of recent history3 King Alfred the Great commission the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 893, and similar chronicles were prepared throughout the Middle Ages4 The most famous production is by a transplanted Frenchman, Jean Froissart 1333–1410 His Froissart's Chronicles, written in French, remains an important source for the first half of the Hundred Years' War5


Sir Walter Raleigh 1554–1618, Educated at Oxford, was a soldier, courtier, and humanist during the late Renaissance in England Convicted of intrigues against the king, he was imprisoned in the Tower and wrote his incomplete "History of the World" Using a wide array of sources in six languages, Raleigh was fully abreast of the latest continental scholarship He wrote not about England, but of the ancient world with a heavy emphasis on geography Despite his intention of providing current advice to the King of England, King James I complained that it was "too sawcie in censuring Princes"6 Raleigh was freed, but was later beheaded for offenses not related to his historiography7

Puritanism and the Civil Waredit

the rise of Puritanism and the great Civil War are central themes of 17th century English history8

Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon 1609–1674, the conservative top aide of the King, wrote the most influential contemporary history of the Civil War, The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England 17029 When he wrote about the distant past, Clarendon used a modern level of skepticism about historical sources, motivations and authority In his history of the Civil War, however, he relapses to a premodern view that attributes critical events to the intervention of Providence1011121314

The foremost modern historian of the Puritan movement and Civil War is Samuel Rawson Gardiner 1820–1902 His series is History of England from the Accession of James I to the Outbreak of the Civil War, 1603–1642 10 vols 1883-4; History of the Great Civil War, 1642–1649 5 vols 1893; and History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, 1649–1660 4 vol 1903 Despite their age, they remain the standard source used by every scholar Gardiner's treatment is exhaustive and philosophical, taking in political and constitutional history, the changes in religion, thought and sentiment, their causes and their tendencies He had a thorough command of all of the printed and manuscript sources Gardiner did not form a school, although his work was completed in two volumes by Charles Harding Firth as The Last Years of the Protectorate 19091516

18th centuryedit

William Robertsonedit

William Robertson, a Scottish historian, and the Historiographer Royal published the History of Scotland 1542 - 1603, in 1759 and his most famous work, The history of the reign of Charles V in 1769 His scholarship was painstaking for the time and he was able to access a large number of documentary sources that had previously been unstudied He was also one of the first historians who understood the importance of general and universally applicable ideas in the shaping of historical events17

David Humeedit

Scottish philosopher and historian David Hume in 1754 he published the History of England, a 6-volume work which extended "From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688" Hume adopted a similar scope to Voltaire in his history; as well as the history of Kings, Parliaments, and armies, he examined the history of culture, including literature and science, as well His short biographies of leading scientists explored the process of scientific change and he developed new ways of seeing scientists in the context of their times by looking at how they interacted with society and each other – he paid special attention to Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton and William Harvey18

He also argued that the quest for liberty was the highest standard for judging the past, and concluded that after considerable fluctuation, England at the time of his writing had achieved "the most entire system of liberty, that was ever known amongst mankind"19

Edward Gibbonedit

Edward Gibbon and his famous masterpiece The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 6 vol 1776–1781 set a literary standard that was never surpassed by historians, and set a standard of scholarly research that was widely emulated In the 20th century, a number of scholars have been inspired by Gibbon20 Piers Brendon notes that Gibbon's work, "became the essential guide for Britons anxious to plot their own imperial trajectory They found the key to understanding the British Empire in the ruins of Rome"21

19th centuryedit

Further information: Historiography of the Poor Laws

Whig historyedit

The term Whig history, coined by Herbert Butterfield in his short book The Whig Interpretation of History in 1931, means the approach to historiography which presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy In general, Whig historians emphasized the rise of constitutional government, personal freedoms and scientific progress The term has been also applied widely in historical disciplines outside of British history the history of science, for example to criticize any teleological or goal-directed, hero-based, and transhistorical narrative22

Paul Rapin de Thoyras's history of England, published in 1723, became "the classic Whig history" for the first half of the 18th century,23 It was later supplanted by the immensely popular The History of England by David Hume Whig historians emphasized the achievements of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 This included James Mackintosh's History of the Revolution in England in 1688, William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England and Henry Hallam's Constitutional History of England24

A majort restatenment was made in the early 20th century by G M Trevelyan David Cannadine says:

in 1926 he produced his one-volume History of England This work set out what he saw as the essential elements in the nation’s evolution and identity: parliamentary government, the rule of law, religious toleration, freedom from Continental interference and involvement, and a global horizon of maritime supremacy and imperial expansion25

The Whig consensus was steadily undermined during the post-World War I re-evaluation of European history, and Butterfield's critique exemplified this trend Intellectuals no longer believed the world was automatically getting better and better Subsequent generations of academic historians have similarly rejected Whig history because of its presentist and teleological assumption that history is driving toward some sort of goal26 Other criticized 'Whig' assumptions included viewing the British system as the apex of human political development, assuming that political figures in the past held current political beliefs anachronism, considering British history as a march of progress with inevitable outcomes and presenting political figures of the past as heroes, who advanced the cause of this political progress, or villains, who sought to hinder its inevitable triumph J Hart says "a Whig interpretation requires human heroes and villains in the story"27


Macaulay was the most influential exponent of Whig history, which said history shows a steady upward improvement toward the present

The most famous exponent of 'Whiggery' was Thomas Babington Macaulay 1800–185928 He published the first volumes of his The History of England from the Accession of James II in 1848 It proved an immediate success and replaced Hume's history to become the new orthodoxy29 His writings are famous for their ringing prose and for their confident, sometimes dogmatic, emphasis on a progressive model of British history, according to which the country threw off superstition, autocracy and confusion to create a balanced constitution and a forward-looking culture combined with freedom of belief and expression This model of human progress has been called the Whig interpretation of history30 His 'Whiggish convictions' are spelled out in his first chapter:

I shall relate how the new settlement wassuccessfully defended against foreign and domestic enemies; howthe authority of law and the security of property were found to be compatible with a liberty of discussion and of individual action never before known; how, from the auspicious union of order and freedom, sprang a prosperity of which the annals of human affairs had furnished no example; how our country, from a state of ignominious vassalage, rapidly rose to the place of umpire among European powers; how her opulence and her martial glory grew together;how a gigantic commerce gave birth to a maritime power, compared with which every other maritime power, ancient or modern, sinks into insignificancethe history of our country during the last hundred and sixty years is eminently the history of physical, of moral, and of intellectual improvement

Macaulay's legacy continues to be controversial; Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote that "most professional historians have long since given up reading Macaulay, as they have given up writing the kind of history he wrote and thinking about history as he did"31 However, J R Western wrote that: "Despite its age and blemishes, Macaulay's History of England has still to be superseded by a full-scale modern history of the period"32

County and local historyedit

Further information: Local history § United Kingdom

Before the impact of high-powered academic scholarship in the 1960s, local history flourished across Britain, producing many nostalgic local studies Local historians in 1870–1914 emphasized progress, growth, and civic pride33 Local history became fashionable in the 18th and 19th centuries; it was widely regarded as an antiquarian pursuit, suitable for country gentry and parsons The Victoria History of the Counties of England project began in 1899 with the aim of creating an encyclopedic history of each of the historic counties of England

Local history was a strength at Leicester University from 1930 Under W G Hoskins it actively promoted the Victoria county histories He pushed for greater attention to the community of farmers, labourers and their farms in addition to the traditional strength in manorial and church history34 The Victoria project is now coordinated by the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London

H P R Finberg was the first Professor of English Local History; he was appointed by Leicester in 196435 Local history continues to be neglected as an academic subject within universities Academic local historians are often found within a more general department of history or in continuing education36

The British Association for Local History encourages and assists in the study of local history as an academic discipline and as a leisure activity by both individuals and groups Most historic counties in England have record societies and archaeological and historical societies which coordinate the work of historians and other researchers concerned with that area

Archives and documentsedit

20th centuryedit

Prominent historiansedit

Thorold Rogers 1823–1890 was the Tooke Professor of Statistics and Economic Science at King's College London, from 1859 until his death He served in Parliament as a Liberal, and deployed historical and statistical methods to analyse some of the key economic and social questions of the day on behalf of free trade and social justice He is best known for compiling the monumental A History of Agriculture and Prices in England from 1259 to 1793 7 vol 1866–1902, which is still useful to scholars3738 William Ashley 1860–1927 introduced British scholars to the historical school of economic history as developed in Germany

G M Trevelyan 1876-1962, Was widely read by both the general public and scholars The son of a leading historian, he combined thorough research and primary sources with a lively writing style, a strong patriotic outlook and a Whig view of continuous progress He reached his widest audiences with History of England 1926 The book affirmed Trevelyan as the foremost historical commentator on England25

Lewis Namier 1888–1960 had a powerful influence on research methodology among British historians39 Born in Poland, his Jewish family was descended from distinguished Talmudic scholars and came to England in 1907 He built his career at Manchester His best-known works were The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III 1929, England in the Age of the American Revolution 1930 and the "History of Parliament" series begun 1940 he edited with John Brooke40 He had a microscopic view of history as made by many individuals with few or any overarching themes; it was called "Namierism" and his approach faded after his death His books typically are starting points for vast enterprises which were never followed up Thus England in the Age of the American Revolution ends in December 176241

Herbert Butterfield 1900–1979 is best known for his philosophical approach to historiographical issues4243


Professionalization involved developing a career track for historians, creating a national historical Association, and sponsorship of scholarly journals The Royal Historical Society was founded in 1868 The English Historical Review began publication in 188644 Oxford and Cambridge were the most prestigious British universities, but they avoided setting up PhD programs and concentrated their attention on teaching undergraduates through tutors based in the colleges The endowed chairs, based in the University as a whole, had much less influence on the teaching of history

Professionalization on the German model focused on the research PhD prepared by graduate students under a master professor, was pioneered by Manchester University J B Bury 1861–1927 at Cambridge, Charles Harding Firth 1857-1936 at Oxford, and especially Thomas Frederick Tout 1855–1929 at Manchester led the way45

At Manchester, Tout introduced original research into the undergraduate programme, culminating in the production of a Final Year thesis based on primary sources This horrified Oxbridge, where college tutors had little research capacity of their own and saw the undergraduate as an embryonic future gentleman, liberal connoisseur, widely read, and mainstay of country and empire in politics, commerce, army, land or church, not an apprentice to dusty, centuries-old archives, wherein no more than 1 in 100 could find even an innocuous career In taking this view they had a fair case, given the various likelihoods and opportunities for their charges Tout's ally C H Firth fought a bitter campaign to persuade Oxford to follow Manchester and introduce scientific study of sources into the History programme, but failed; there was failure too, at Cambridge Other universities, however, followed Tout, and Oxbridge, but very slowly, had to face up to the fact, and fundamental changes to the selection of college fellows across all disciplines ensued46

Class issues: Middle class & gentryedit

Further information: Storm over the gentry and Communist Party Historians Group

Marxist historiography developed as a school of historiography influenced by the chief tenets of Marxism, including the centrality of social class and economic constraints in determining historical outcomes Friedrich Engels wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844; it inspired the socialist impetus in British politics including the Fabian Society, but did not influence historians

R H Tawney was a powerful influence His The Agrarian Problem in the Sixteenth Century 191247 and Religion and the Rise of Capitalism 1926, reflected his ethical concerns and preoccupations in economic history He was profoundly interested in the issue of the enclosure of land in the English countryside in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and in Max Weber's thesis on the connection between the appearance of Protestantism and the rise of capitalism

The "gentry" in Britain comprised the rich landowners who were not members of the aristocracy The "Storm over the gentry" was a major historiographical debate among scholars that took place in the 1940s and 1950s regarding the role of the gentry in causing the English Civil War of the 17th century48 Economic historian RH Tawney had suggested in 1941 that there was a major economic crisis for the nobility in the 16th and 17th centuries, and that the rapidly rising gentry class was demanding a share of power When the aristocracy resisted, Tawney argued, the gentry launched the civil war49 After heated debate historians generally concluded that the role of the gentry was not especially important50

Marxist historiansedit

A circle of historians inside the Communist Party of Great Britain CPGB formed in 1946 and became a highly influential cluster of British Marxist historians, who contributed to history from below and class structure in early capitalist society While some members of the group most notably Christopher Hill and E P Thompson left the CPGB after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the common points of British Marxist historiography continued in their works They placed a great emphasis on the subjective determination of history

In the 1950s to 1970s, labor history was redefined and expanded in focus by a number of historians, amongst whom the most prominent and influential figures were E P Thompson and Eric Hobsbawm The motivation came from current left-wing politics in Britain and the United States and reached red-hot intensity Kenneth O Morgan, a more traditional liberal historian, explains the dynamic:

the ferocity of argument owed more to current politics, the unions’ winter of discontent in 1979, and rise of a hard-left militant tendency within the world of academic history as well as within the Labour Party The new history was often strongly Marxist, which fed through the work of brilliant evangelists like Raphael Samuel into the New Left Review, a famous journal like Past and Present, the Society of Labour History and the work of a large number of younger scholars engaged in the field Non-scholars like Tony Benn joined in The new influence of Marxism upon Labour studies came to affect the study of history as a whole51

Morgan sees benefits:

In many ways, this was highly beneficial: it encouraged the study of the dynamics of social history rather than a narrow formal institutional view of labour and the history of the Labour Party; it sought to place the experience of working people within a wider technical and ideological context; it encouraged a more adventurous range of sources, ‘history from below’ so-called, and rescued them from what Thompson memorably called the ‘condescension of posterity’; it brought the idea of class centre-stage in the treatment of working-class history, where I had always felt it belonged; it shed new light on the poor and dispossessed for whom the source materials were far more scrappy than those for the bourgeoisie, and made original use of popular evidence like oral history, not much used before52

Morgan tells of the downside as well:

But the Marxist – or sometimes Trotskyist – emphasis in Labour studies was too often doctrinaire and intolerant of non-Marxist dissent–it was also too often plain wrong, distorting the evidence within a narrow doctrinaire framework I felt it incumbent upon me to help rescue it But this was not always fun I recall addressing a history meeting in Cardiffwhen, for the only time in my life, I was subjected to an incoherent series of attacks of a highly personal kind, playing the man not the ball, focusing on my accent, my being at Oxford and the supposedly reactionary tendencies of my empiricist colleagues53

Christopher Hill 1912–2003 specialized in 17th-century English history54 His books include Puritanism and Revolution 1958, Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution 1965 and revised in 1996, The Century of Revolution 1961, AntiChrist in 17th-century England 1971, The World Turned Upside Down 1972 and many others

E P Thompson pioneered the study of history from below in his work, The Making of the English Working Class, published in 1963 It focused on the forgotten history of the first working-class political left in the world in the late-18th and early-19th centuries In his preface to this book, Thompson set out his approach to writing history from below:

I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the "obsolete" hand-loom weaver, the "Utopian" artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity Their crafts and traditions may have been dying Their hostility to the new industrialism may have been backward-looking Their communitarian ideals may have been fantasies Their insurrectionary conspiracies may have been foolhardy But they lived through these times of acute social disturbance, and we did not Their aspirations were valid in terms of their own experience; and, if they were casualties of history, they remain, condemned in their own lives, as casualties

Thompson's work was also significant because of the way he defined "class" He argued that class was not a structure, but a relationship that changed over time He opened the gates for a generation of labor historians, such as David Montgomery and Herbert Gutman, who made similar studies of the American working classes

Other important Marxist historians included Eric Hobsbawm, C L R James, Raphael Samuel, A L Morton and Brian Pearce

Although Marxist historiography made important contributions to the history of the working class, oppressed nationalities, and the methodology of history from below, its chief problematic aspect was its argument on the nature of history as determined or dialectical; this can also be stated as the relative importance of subjective and objective factors in creating outcomes It increasingly fell out of favour in the 1960s and '70s55 Geoffrey Elton was important in undermining the case for a Marxist historiography, which he argued was presenting seriously flawed interpretations of the past In particular, Elton was opposed to the idea that the English Civil War was caused by socioeconomic changes in the 16th and 17th centuries, arguing instead that it was due largely to the incompetence of the Stuart kings56

Outside the Marxist orbit, social historians paid a good deal of attention to labour history as well57

Addison notes that in Britain by the 1990s, labour history was, "in sharp decline," because:

there was no longer much interest in history of the white, male working-class Instead the 'cultural turn' encouraged historians to explore wartime constructions of gender, race, citizenship and national identity58

Since 1945edit

First World Waredit

The First World War continues to be a theme of major interest to scholars, but the content has changed over time The first studies focused on the military history of the war itself and reached a wide popular audience59 With the publication of most of the critical diplomatic documents from all sides in the 1920s and 1930s, scholarly attention turned heavily toward comparative diplomatic history of Britain, alongside France, Germany, Austria and Russia Numerous ponderous monographs resulted In recent decades, attention has turned away from the generals and toward the common soldiers, away from the Western front and toward the complex involvement in other regions, including the roles of the colonies and dominions of the British Empire A great deal of attention is devoted to structure of the Army, and debates regarding the mistakes made by the high command typified by the popular slogan Lions led by donkeys Social history has brought in the home front, especially roles of women And propaganda Cultural studies have pointed to the memories and meanings of the war after 191860

Prominent historiansedit

Further information: List of historians by area of study

Arnold Toynbee and world historyedit

Arnold J Toynbee 1889–1975 had two careers, one focused on chronicling and analyzing 20th century diplomatic history61 However he became world famous for his sweeping interpretation of world history, with a strong religious bent, in his 12-volume A Study of History 1934–1961 With his prodigious output of papers, articles, speeches and presentations, and numerous books translated into many languages, Toynbee was a widely read and discussed scholar in the 1940s and 1950s Professional historians never paid much heed to the second Toynbee, and he lost his popular audience as well62

Keith Feiling the conservativeedit

Keith Feiling 1884–1977 was Chichele Professor of Modern History at Oxford, 1946–1950 He was noted for his conservative interpretation of the past, showing an empire-oriented ideology in defence of hierarchical authority, paternalism, deference, the monarchy, Church, family, nation, status, and place A Tory Democrat, he felt that conservatives possessed more character than other people, as he tried to demonstrate in his books on the history of the Conservative Party He acknowledged the necessity of reform—as long as it was gradual, top-down, and grounded not in abstract theory but in an appreciation of English history Thus he celebrated the reforms of the 1830s63 AJP Taylor in 1950 praised Feiling's historiography, calling it "Toryism" in contrast to the more common "Whig history", or liberal historiography, written to show the inevitable progress of mankind Taylor explains, "Toryism rests on doubt in human nature; it distrusts improvement, clings to traditional institutions, prefers the past to the future It is a sentiment rather than a principle"64

Isaiah Berlin 1909–1997 was a highly respected essayist who explored ideas and philosophy65

A J P Tayloredit

A J P Taylor 1906–1990 Is best known for his highly controversial reinterpretation of the coming of the Origins of the Second World War 1961 He ranged widely over the 19th and 20th centuries Of major importance are his rich treatises surveying European diplomatic history, The struggle for mastery in Europe, 1848-1918 Oxford University Press, 1955, and 20th century Britain, English History 1914-1945 Oxford University Press, 19656667 As a commentator in print and on the air he became well known to millions through his television lectures His combination of academic rigour and popular appeal led the historian Richard Overy to describe him as "the Macaulay of our age"68

Despite Taylor's increasing ambivalence toward appeasement from the late 1950s, which became explicitly evident in his 1961 book Origins of the Second World War, Winston Churchill remained another of his heroes In English History 1914-1945 1965 Taylor famously concluded his biographical footnote of Churchill with the phrase "the savior of his country"69 Another person Taylor admired was the historian E H Carr, who was his favourite historian and a good friend

Hugh Trevor-Roper The essayistedit

Hugh Trevor-Roper 1914–2003 was a leading essayist and commentator He thrived on polemics and debates, covering a wide range of historical topics, but particularly England in the 16th and 17th centuries and Nazi Germany His essays established Trevor-Roper's reputation as a scholar who could succinctly define historiographical controversies In the view of John Kenyon, "some of Trevor-Roper's short essays have affected the way we think about the past more than other men's books"70 On the other hand, his biographer, claims that "the mark of a great historian is that he writes great books, on the subject which he has made his own By this exacting standard Hugh failed" 71

Political historyedit

Political history has flourished in terms both of biography of major national leaders, and the history of political parties727374

Postwar consensusedit

Main article: Postwar consensus

The post-war consensus is a historians' model of political agreement from 1945 to 1979, when newly elected Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher rejected and reversed it 75 The concept claims there was a widespread consensus that covered support for coherent package of policies that were developed in the 1930s and promised during the Second World War, focused on a mixed economy, Keynesianism, and a broad welfare state76 In recent years the validity of the interpretation has been debated by historians

The historians' model of the postwar consensus was most fully developed by Paul Addison77 The basic argument is that in the 1930s Liberal Party intellectuals led by John Maynard Keynes and William Beveridge developed a series of plans that became especially attractive as the wartime government promised a much better postwar Britain and saw the need to engage every sector of society The coalition government during the war, headed by Churchill and Attlee, signed off on a series of white papers that promised Britain a much improved welfare state After the war The promises included the national health service, and expansion of education, housing, and a number of welfare programs, as well as the nationalization of some weak industries It was extended to foreign policy in terms of decolonization as well as support for the Cold War

The model states that from 1945 until the arrival of Thatcher in 1979, there was a broad multi-partisan national consensus on social and economic policy, especially regarding the welfare state, nationalized health services, educational reform, a mixed economy, government regulation, Keynesian macroeconoic, policies , and full employment Apart from the question of nationalization of some industries, these policies were broadly accepted by the three major parties, as well as by industry, the financial community and the labour movement Until the 1980s, historians generally agreed on the existence and importance of the consensus Some historians such as Ralph Milibrand expressed disappointment that the consensus was a modest or even conservative package that blocked a fully socialized society78 Historian Angus Calder complained bitterly that the postwar reforms were an inadequate reward for the wartime sacrifices, and a cynical betrayal of the people's hope for a more just postwar society79 In recent years, there has been a historiographical debate on whether such a consensus ever existed80 The revisionist argument is that the "consensus" was superficial because the parties were themselves deeply divided Furthermore the Conservatives clung to their pro-business ideals while Labour never renounced socialism81

Business historyedit

Business History in Britain emerged in the 1950s following the publication of a series of influential company histories and the establishment of the journal Business History82 in 1958 at the University of Liverpool The most influential of these early company histories was Charles Wilson historian’s History of Unilever, the first volume of which was published in 1954 Other examples included Coleman’s work on Courtaulds and artificial fibres, Alford on Wills and the tobacco industry, Barker on Pilkington’s and glass manufacture8384 These early studies were conducted by primarily by economic historians interested in the role of leading firms in the development of the wider industry, and therefore went beyond mere corporate histories Although some work examined the successful industries of the industrial revolution and the role of the key entrepreneurs, in the 1970s scholarly debate in British business history became increasingly focused on economic decline For economic historians, the loss of British competitive advantage after 1870 could at least in part be explained by entrepreneurial failure, prompting further business history research into individual industry and corporate cases The Lancashire cotton textile industry, which had been the leading take-off sector in the industrial revolution, but which was slow to invest in subsequent technical developments, became an important topic of debate on this subject William Lazonick for example argued that cotton textile entrepreneurs in Britain failed to develop larger integrated plants on the American model; a conclusion similar to Chandler’s synthesis of a number of comparative case studies8586

Studies of British business leaders have emphasized how they fit into the class structure, especially their relationship to the aristocracy, and the desire to use their wealth to purchase landed estates, and hereditary titles878889 Biography has been of less importance in British business history, but there are compilations90 British business history began to widen its scope in the 1980s, with research work conducted at the LSE's Business History Unit, led first by Leslie Hannah, then by Terry Gourvish Other research centres followed, notably at Glasgow and Reading, reflecting an increasing involvement in the discipline by Business and Management School academics More recent editors of Business History, Geoffrey Jones academicHarvard Business School, Charles Harvey University of Newcastle Business School, John Wilson Liverpool University Management School and Steven Toms Leeds University Business School have promoted management strategy themes such as networks, family capitalism, corporate governance, human resource management, marketing and brands, and multi-national organisations in their international as well as merely British context Employing these new themes has allowed business historians to challenge and adapt the earlier conclusions of Chandler and others about the performance of the British economy91

Urban historyedit

Main article: Urban history

In the 1960s, the academic historiography of the Victorian towns and cities began to flourish in Britain92 Much of the attention focused at first on the Victorian city, with topics ranging from demography, public health, the working-class, and local culture93 In recent decades topics regarding class, capitalism, and social structure have given way to studies of the cultural history of urban life, as well as groups such as women, prostitutes, migrants from rural areas, and immigrants from the Continent and from the British Empire94 The urban environment itself became a major topic, as studies of the material fabric of the city, and the structure of urban space, became more prominent95

Historians have always made London the focus For example, recent studies of early modern London cover a wide range of topics, including literary and cultural activities, the character of religious life in post-Reformation London; the importance of place and space to the experience of the city; and the question of civic and business morality in an urban environment without the oversight typical of villages96

Academics have increasingly studied small towns and cities since the medieval period, as well as the urbanization that attended the industrial revolution The historiography on the politics of 18th-century urban England shows the critical role played by towns in politics where they comprised four-fifths of the seats in the House of Commons, as well as the political dominance of London The studies also show how townspeople promoted social change at the same time as securing long-term political stability97

In the second half of the 19th century, provincial centers such as Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester doubled in size, become regional capitals They were all conurbations that included smaller cities and suburbs in their catchement area They available scholarly materials are now quite comprehensive In 2000 Peter Clark of the Urban History Center of the University of Leicester was the general editor and Cambridge University Press the publisher of a massive history of British cities and towns, running 2800 pages in 75 chapters by 90 scholars The chapters deal not with biographies of individual cities, but with economic, social or political themes that cities had in common The complete text is online9899


The theme of deindustrialization has begun to attract the attention of historians First wave the scholarship came from activists, who are deeply involved in community activism at the time the factories and mines were shutting down the 1970s and 1980s The cultural turn focused attention on the meaning of deindustrialization in the 2000s A third wave of scholars look at the socio-cultural aspects of how working-class culture changed in the post-industrial age Historians broadened their scope from the economic causes of decline and resistance to job loss, to its social and cultural long-term effects100

New themesedit

Women's historyedit

Women's history started to emerge in the 1970s, against the passive resistance of many established men who had long dismissed it frivolous, trivial, and "outside the boundaries of history" That sentiment persisted for decades in Oxbridge, but has largely faded in the red bricks and newer universities101

History of Parliamentedit

In 1951 scholars receive national funding for collaborative "History of Parliament" An editorial board comprising leading scholars, most notably Sir John Neale and Sir Lewis Namier Years of energetic research, with numerous assistance, demonstrated a commitment to the new technique of "prosopography" or quantitative collective biography However Neale and Namier had sharply different interpretations of the project Neale looked For definitive quantitative answers to specific technical questions, of the sort suggested by his traditional whiggish view of constitutional development Namier, on the other hand, took a sociological approach to use the lives of MPs as an entry point to re-create the world of the governing classes The problem with the mirrors approach is that it would never end, For new results would keep generating new questions The editorial board Was unable to synthesize the two approaches Namier's team moved faster through the documents, so much of the work followed his model section made more progress, his view of the History triumphed over Neale's The Conservative Government entered the debate, led by Harold Macmillan and civil servants who Wanted to finished product, rather than a never-ending project Namier's ambition was curtailed and, after his death in 1960, his own section was completed by his assistant, John Brooke, in a more restricted format40

History of the stateedit

the history of the state has been conceptualized first as a history of the ruling monarchs, and under Namier the study of individual personalities Recently there's been a deeper exploration of the growth of state power Historians have looked at the long 18th century, from about 1660 to 1837 from four fresh perspectives102 The first, developed by Oliver MacDonagh, presented an expansive and centralized administrative state while deemphasizing the influence of Benthamite utilitarianism103 The second approach, as developed by Edward Higgs, conceptualizes the state as an information-gathering entity, paying special attention to local registrars and the census He brings in such topics as spies, surveillance of Catholics, the 1605 Gunpowder Plot led by Guy Fawkes to overthrow the government, and the Poor Laws, and demonstrates similarities to the surveillance society of the 21st century104 John Brewer introduced the third approach with his depiction of the unexpectedly powerful, centralized 'fiscal-military' state during the eighteenth century105106 finally there have been numerous recent studies that explore the state as an abstract entity capable of commanding the loyalties of those people over whom it rules

Digital historyedit

Digital history is opening new avenues for research into original sources that were very hard to handle before One model is the Eighteenth Century Devon project, completed in 2007 It was a collaboration of professional historians, local volunteers, and professional archives that created and online collection of transcripts of 18th-century documents, such as allegiance rolls, Episcopal visitation returns, and freeholder lists107 Digital archives and digital periodicals are allowing much broader opportunity for research and primary sources happy undergraduate level108 Use of powerful search engines on large textual databases allows much more expanded research on such sources as newspaper files109

See alsoedit

  • Cambridge School of historiography led by John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson
  • Economic history of the United Kingdom
  • Historians of England in the Middle Ages
  • Historiography of the British Empire
  • Historiography of the Poor Laws
  • Historiography of the causes of World War I
  • History of England
  • History of Northern Ireland
  • History of Scotland
  • History of Wales
  • List of Cornish historians
  • Military history of the United Kingdom
  • Politics of the United Kingdom
  • Religion in the United Kingdom
  • Timeline of British diplomatic history
  • Timeline of Irish history
  • Timeline of Scottish history

Special topicsedit

  • James Callaghan#Historiography, prime minister 1976-79

Prominent historiansedit

  • Lord Acton, 1834-1902 editor
  • Robert C Allen born 1947, economic
  • Perry Anderson born 1938, Marxism
  • Karen Armstrong born 1944, religious
  • William Ashley 1860–1927, British economic history
  • Bernard Bailyn born 1922, Atlantic migration
  • The Venerable Bede 672–735 – Britain from 55 BC to 731 AD
  • Brian Bond born 1936 military
  • Asa Briggs, 1921–, British social110
  • Arthur Bryant 1899-1985, Pepys; popular military
  • Herbert Butterfield 1900–1979, historiography
  • Angus Calder 1942-2008 – Second World War
  • I R Christie 1919–1998, 18th century
  • Winston Churchill 1874–1965, world wars
  • JCD Clark born 1951, 18th century
  • Linda Colley born 1949 – 18th century
  • R G Collingwood 1889–1943, philosophy of history
  • Patrick Collinson born 1929, Elizabethan England & Puritanism
  • Julian Corbett 1854–1922, naval
  • Maurice Cowling – 1926-2005 19th and 20th century politics
  • Susan Doran, Elizabethan
  • David C Douglas 1898–1982, Norman England
  • Eamon Duffy – religious history of the 15th–17th centuries
  • Harold James Dyos 1921–78, urban
  • Geoffrey Rudolph Elton – Tudor period
  • Charles Harding Firth 1857–1936 – political history of the 17th century
  • Judith Flanders born 1959, Victorian social
  • Amanda Foreman born 1968, 18th-19th centuries; Women
  • Antonia Fraser – 17th century
  • Edward Augustus Freeman 1823–1892, English politics
  • James Anthony Froude 1818–1894, Tudor England
  • William Gibson – ecclesiastical history
  • Samuel Rawson Gardiner 1829–1902 – political history of the 17th century
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth died c 1154 – England
  • Lawrence Henry Gipson 1882–1970, British Empire before 1775
  • George Peabody Gooch 1873–1968, modern diplomacy
  • Andrew Gordon, naval
  • John Richard Green 1837–1883, English
  • Mary Anne Everett Green 1818–1895,
  • John Guy born 1949, Tudor era
  • Edward Hasted 1732-1812– Kent
  • Max Hastings born 1945, military, Second World War
  • J H Hexter – 17th century; historiography
  • Christopher Hill 1912–2003 – 17th century
  • Gertrude Himmelfarb born 1924, Victorian
  • Harry Hinsley 1918–1998, British intelligence, World War 2
  • Eric Hobsbawn 1917–2012 – Marxist; 19th-20th centuries
  • David Hume 1711–1776 – six volume History of England
  • Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon 1609–1674 – English Civil Wars
  • William James naval historian, Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars
  • George Hilton Jones III 1924–2008
  • David S Katz, religious
  • RJB Knight born 1944, naval
  • David Knowles 1896-1974, medieval
  • Andrew Lambert born 1956, naval
  • John Lingard 1771 – 1851, survey from Catholic perspective
  • John Edward Lloyd 1861–1947 – early Welsh history
  • David Loades born 1934, Tudor era
  • Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay 1800–1859 – English writer and historian whose most famous work was The History of England from the Accession of James the Second
  • Piers Mackesy born 1924, military
  • J D Mackie 1887–1978, Scottish
  • Frederic William Maitland 1850–1906, legal, medieval
  • Arthur Marder 1910–1980, 20th century naval
  • Kenneth O Morgan born 1934, Wales; politics since 1945
  • Lewis Bernstein Namier – political history of the 18th century
  • Charles Oman 1860–1946, 19th century military
  • Bradford Perkins 1925–2008, diplomacy with US
  • JH Plumb 1911–2001, 18th century
  • J G A Pocock born 1924, political ideas; early modern
  • Roy Porter 1946–2002, social & medical
  • F M Powicke 1879-1963, English medieval
  • Andrew Roberts – Political biographies, 19th and 20th centuries
  • NAM Rodger, naval
  • Stephen Roskill, naval
  • A L Rowse 1903–1997 – Cornish history and Elizabethan
  • Conrad Russell, 17th century
  • Dominic Sandbrook born 1974 – 1960s and after
  • John Robert Seeley 1834–1895 – political history; Empire
  • Simon Schama born 1945, surveys
  • Jack Simmons 1915–2000 – railways, topography
  • Quentin Skinner, early modern political ideas
  • Goldwin Smith 1823–1910, British and Canadian
  • Richard Southern 1912-2001, medieval
  • David Starkey born 1945 – Tudor era
  • Frank Stenton 1880-1967 English medieval
  • Lawrence Stone – society and the history of the family
  • William Stubbs 1825–1902, law
  • AJP Taylor 1906–1990, 19th c diplomacy; 20c; historiography
  • E P Thompson 1924–1993, working class
  • A Wyatt Tilby 1880–1948, British diaspora
  • George Macaulay Trevelyan 1876–1962 – English history many different periods
  • Hugh Trevor-Roper, Baron Dacre of Glanton – 17th century
  • Walter Ullmann 1910-1983, Medieval
  • Paul Vinogradoff 1854–1925, medieval
  • Charles Webster 1886–1961, Diplomatic
  • Retha Warnicke born 1939 – Tudor history and gender issues
  • Cicely Veronica Wedgwood 1910–1997 – British
  • Ernest Llewellyn Woodward 1890–1971, international relations
  • Perez Zagorin born 1920 – 16th and 17th centuries

Scholarly journalsedit

  • Agricultural History Review
  • Anglican & Episcopal History
  • Albion
  • British Catholic History
  • Britain and the World, formerly British Scholar
  • Contemporary British History111
  • English Historical Review
  • First World War Studies112
  • The Historical Journal
  • History of Education: Journal of the History of Education Society113
  • History Today, popular
  • History Workshop Journal
  • Notes and Records of the Royal Society, history of science
  • Past & Present
  • Journal of British Studies
  • Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, formerly Scottish Economic and Social History
  • Studia Hibernica
  • The Scottish Historical Review
  • Twentieth Century British History
  • Urban History
  • Victorian Studies


  • British Association for Local History
  • Centre for Contemporary British History
  • Centre for Metropolitan History
  • Dictionary of National Biography
  • Economic History Society
  • Federation of Family History Societies
  • Historical Association
  • Historical Manuscripts Commission
  • History of Parliament
  • Institute of Historical Research
  • Oral History Society
  • Royal Historical Society
  • Society of Antiquaries of London
  • Society of Genealogists
  • Victoria County History


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  23. ^ Hugh Trevor-Roper, 'Introduction', Lord Macaulay's History of England Penguin Classics, 1979, p 10
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  27. ^ J Hart, "Nineteenth-Century Social Reform: A Tory Interpretation of History", Past & Present 1965 31#1 pp 39–61
  28. ^ John Leonard Clive, Thomas Babington Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian 1973
  29. ^ Hugh Trevor-Roper, 'Introduction', Lord Macaulay's History of England Penguin Classics, 1979, pp 25–6
  30. ^ John Clive, Macaulay--the shaping of the historian 1975
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  36. ^ John Beckett et al, The Victoria County History 1899-2012: a Diamond Jubilee celebration 2nd ed 2013
  37. ^ W J Ashley, "James E Thorold Rogers" Political Science Quarterly 1889 pp 381–407 in JSTOR
  38. ^ Alon Kadish, Historians, Economists, and Economic History 2012 pp 3–35 excerpt
  39. ^ Julia Namier, Lewis Namier: a biography 1971
  40. ^ a b D W Hayton, "Sir Lewis Namier, Sir John Neale and the Shaping of the History of Parliament" Parliamentary History 32#1 2013: 187–211
  41. ^ John Brooke, "Namier and Namierism" History and Theory 3#3 1964: 331–347
  42. ^ Michael Bentley, "Who was Herbert Butterfield" History Today 2011 61#11 pp 62–63
  43. ^ James Smyth, "Lewis Namier, Herbert Butterfield and Edmund Burke" Journal for Eighteenth‐Century Studies 35#3 2012: 381–389
  44. ^ Doris S Goldstein, "The origins and early years of the English Historical Review" English Historical Review 1986 101#398 pp: 6–19
  45. ^ Peter RH Slee, Learning and a Liberal Education: The Study of Modern History in the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Manchester, 1800-1914 Manchester University Press, 1986
  46. ^ Reba Soffer, "Nation, duty, character and confidence: history at Oxford, 1850–1914" Historical Journal 1987 30#01 pp: 77–104
  47. ^ William Rose Benét 1988 p 961
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  49. ^ R H Tawney, "The Rise of the Gentry, 1558-1640," Economic History Review 1941 11#1 pp 1–38 in JSTOR
  50. ^ JH Hexter, 'Storm over the Gentry', in Hexter, Reappraisals in History 1961 pp 117–62
  51. ^ Kenneth O Morgan, My Histories University of Wales Press, 2015 p 85
  52. ^ Morgan, My Histories 2015 p 86
  53. ^ Morgan, My Histories 2015 p 86 online at JSTOR
  54. ^ "Hill, John Edward Christopher 1912–2003" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press January 2007 Retrieved 29 June 2012 
  55. ^ Perry Anderson, Arguments within English marxism Verso Books, 2016
  56. ^ See his essays 'The Stuart Century', 'A High Road to Civil War' and 'The Unexplained Revolution' in G R Elton, Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government: Volume II Cambridge University Press, 1974
  57. ^ John McIlroy, "Asa Briggs and the Emergence of Labour History in Post-War Britain" Labour History Review 772 2012: 211-242
  58. ^ Paul Addison and Harriet Jones, eds A Companion to Contemporary Britain: 1939-2000 2005 p 4
  59. ^ William Philpott, "Military history a century after the Great War" Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique French Journal of British Studies 20XX-1 2015 online
  60. ^ Martin Francis, "Attending to ghosts: Some reflections on the disavowals of British Great War historiography" Twentieth Century British History 2014 25#3 pp 347–367
  61. ^ William H McNeill, Arnold J Toynbee: a life 1989
  62. ^ Alexander Hutton, "‘A belated return for Christ’: the reception of Arnold J Toynbee's A Study of History in a British context, 1934–1961" European Review of History: Revue europeenne d'histoire 213 2014: 405–424
  63. ^ Reba N Soffer, History, Historians, and Conservatism in Britain and America: From the Great War to Thatcher and Reagan 2009
  64. ^ AJP Taylor, Essays in English history 1976 p 18
  65. ^ John Gray, Isaiah Berlin Princeton University Press, 1996
  66. ^ John Boyer, "A J P Taylor and the Art of Modern History" Journal of Modern History 1977 49#1 40–72
  67. ^ Kathleen Burk, Troublemaker: The Life And History Of A J P Taylor Yale University Press, 2000
  68. ^ Richard Overy 30 January 1994 "Riddle Radical Ridicule" The Observer 
  69. ^ A J P Taylor 1965 English History 1914-1945 Oxford: Clarendon Press p 29 
  70. ^ Quoted at Adam Sisman, An Honourable Englishman: The Life of Hugh Trevor-Roper 2010 p 414
  71. ^ Sisman, An Honourable Englishman: The Life of Hugh Trevor-Roper 2010 p 375
  72. ^ Paul Readman, "The State of Twentieth-Century British Political History," Journal of Policy History, 2009 21#3 pp 219–238
  73. ^ John Callaghan, et al eds, Interpreting the Labour Party: Approaches to Labour Politics and History 2003 online; also online free
  74. ^ Kit Kowol, "Renaissance on the Right New Directions in the History of the Post-War Conservative Party" Twentieth Century British History 27#2 2016: 290-304 online
  75. ^ Richard Toye, "From 'Consensus' to 'Common Ground': The Rhetoric of the Postwar Settlement and its Collapse," Journal of Contemporary History 2013 48#1 pp 3-23
  76. ^ Dennis Kavanagh, "The Postwar Consensus," Twentieth Century British History 1992 3#2 pp 175-190
  77. ^ Paul Addison, The road to 1945: British politics and the Second World War 1975
  78. ^ Ralph Miliband, Parliamentary socialism: A study in the politics of labour 1972
  79. ^ Angus Calder, The Peoples War: Britain, 1939 – 1945 1969
  80. ^ Daniel Ritschel, Daniel "Consensus in the Postwar Period After 1945," in David Loades, ed, Reader's Guide to British History 2003 1:296-297
  81. ^ Kevin Jefferys, The Churchill Coalition and wartime politics, 1940-1945 Manchester University Press, 1995
  82. ^ see Business History
  83. ^ John Wilson, and Steven Toms, JS ‘Fifty years of Business History’, Business History 2008 50#2 pp125-26
  84. ^ Leslie Hannah, ‘New Issues in British Business History’, Business History Review 1983 57# 2, pp165-174
  85. ^ Chandler, A, Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism, Cambridge Mass: Belknap Press 1990
  86. ^ William Mass, & William Lazonick, "The British Cotton Industry and International Competitive Advantage: the state of the debates," Business History, 1990 32#4 pp 9-65
  87. ^ Howard L Malchow, Gentlemen capitalists: the social and political world of the Victorian businessman Stanford University Press, 19920
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  89. ^ Julia A Smith, "Land ownership and social change in late nineteenth-century Britain" Economic History Review 53#4 2000: 767-776 in JSTOR
  90. ^ David J Jeremy, ed, Dictionary of business biography: a biographical dictionary of business leaders active in Britain in the period 1860-1980 Butterworths, 1984
  91. ^ Toms, Steven and Wilson, John F "Scale, Scope and Accountability: Towards a New Paradigm of British Business History," Business History 2003 45#4 pp 1-23
  92. ^ Gary W Davies, "The rise of urban history in Britain c 1960-1978" PhD dissertation, University of Leicester, 2014 online, With detailed bibliography pp 205-40
  93. ^ H J Dyos, and Michael Wolff, eds Victorian City: Images and Realities 2 vol 1973
  94. ^ Kevin Myers and Ian Grosvenor, "Birmingham Stories: Local Histories of Migration and Settlement and the Practice of History" Midland History 2011 36#2 pp 149–162
  95. ^ Simon Gunn, "Urbanization" in Chris Williams, ed, Eight Companion to 19th-Century Britain 2007 pp 238–252
  96. ^ Vanessa Harding, "Recent perspectives on early modern London" Historical Journal 47#2 2004: 435–450
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  99. ^ See review by: Albert J Schmidt, Journal of Social History 2003 36#3 pp 781–784 in JSTOR
  100. ^ Steven High, "'The Wounds of Class': A Historiographical Reflection on the Study of Deindustrialization, 1973-2013," History Compass 2013 11#11 pp 994–1007
  101. ^ Bonnie Smith, "The Contribution of Women to Modern Historiography in Great Britain, France, and the United States, 1750-1940," American Historical Review 1984 89#3 709-32
  102. ^ Simon Devereaux, "The Historiography of the English State During 'The Long Eighteenth Century' Part Two - Fiscal-Military and Nationalist Perspectives" History Compass 2010 8#8 pp 843-865
  103. ^ Oliver MacDonagh, "The Nineteenth-Century Revolution in Government: A Reappraisal" The Historical Journal 1#1 1958: 52-67
  104. ^ Edward Higgs, Identifying the English: a history of personal identification 1500 to the present 2011
  105. ^ John Brewer, The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783 1990
  106. ^ Aaron Graham, The British Fiscal-military States, 1660-c 1783 2015
  107. ^ Simon Dixon, "Local History, Archives and the Public: The Eighteenth Century Devon: People and Communities Project Assessed," Archives 2008 33#119 pp 101-113
  108. ^ Kristin Mahoney, and Kaitlyn Abrams, "Periodical Pedagogy in the Undergraduate Classroom," Victorian Periodicals Review 2015 48#2 pp 216-231
  109. ^ Adrian Bingham, "The Times Digital Archive, 1785–2006 Gale Cengage" English Historical Review 2013 128 #533 pp 1037–1040
  110. ^ See Making History and biography
  111. ^ See
  112. ^ See website
  113. ^ See Website

Further readingedit

  • Bentley, Michael Modernizing England's Past: English Historiography in the Age of Modernism, 1870-1970 2006 excerpt
  • Boyd, Kelly, ed Encyclopedia of historians and historical writing 2 vol Taylor & Francis, 1999, 1562pp
  • Elton, GR Modern Historians on British History 1485-1945: A Critical Bibliography 1945-1969 1970 excerpt, highly useful bibliography of 1000+ scholarly books, articles and book reviews published before 1970
  • Furber, Elizabeth Chapin, ed Changing Views on British History 1966
  • Gransden, Antonia Historical Writing in England, volume 1 Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974
  • Loades, David, ed Reader's Guide to British History 2 vol 2003, 1610pp, comprehensive coverage of major topics and historians
  • Schlatter, Richard, ed Recent Views on British History: Essays on Historical Writing Since 1966 1984
  • Thompson, James Westfall A History of Historical Writing vol 1: From the earliest Times to the End of the 17th Century 1942 online edition; A History of Historical Writing vol 2: The 18th and 19th Centuries 1942 online edition
  • Woolf, Daniel R, ed, A Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing 2 vol Taylor & Francis, 1998

Period guidesedit

  • Addison, Paul and Harriet Jones, eds A Companion to Contemporary Britain: 1939–2000 2005 excerpt and text search
  • Cannon, John The Oxford Companion to British History 2nd ed 2002 1142pp
  • Dickinson, HT, ed A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Britain Blackwell, 2006; 584pp; essays by 38 experts; excerpt and text search
  • Jones, Harriet, and Mark Clapson, eds The Routledge Companion to Britain in the Twentieth Century 2009 excerpt and text search
  • Williams, Chris, ed A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Britain Blackwell, 2006; 33 essays by experts; 624pp excerpt and text search
  • Wrigley, Chris, ed A Companion to Early Twentieth-Century Britain Blackwell Companions to British History 2009 excerpt and text search


  • Bently, M "Shape and pattern in British historical writing, 1815–1945, in S MacIntyre, J Maiguashca and A Pok, eds, The Oxford History of Historical Writing: Volume 4: 1800–1945 Oxford University Press, 2012, p 206+
  • Feldman, David, and Jon Lawrence, eds Structures and Transformations in Modern British History Cambridge University Press, 2011
  • Hitsman, J Mackay " Canadian and British Military Historiography" In A Guide to the Sources of British Military History 2015
  • Jeremy, David J, ed Dictionary of business biography: a biographical dictionary of business leaders active in Britain in the period 1860-1980 Butterworths, 1984
  • Mort, Frank "Intellectual Pluralism and the Future of British History" History Workshop Journal Vol 72 No 1 2011
  • Palmer, William "Aspects of Revision in History in Great Britain and the United States, 1920-1975," Historical Reflections 2010 36#1 pp 17–32


  • Gooch, G P History and historians in the nineteenth century 1913 online
  • Hale, John Rigby, ed The evolution of British historiography: from Bacon to Namier Macmillan, 1967
  • Kenyon, John Philipps The history men: the historical profession in England since the Renaissance U of Pittsburgh Press, 1984
  • Smith, Bonnie G "The Contribution of Women to Modern Historiography in Great Britain, France, and the United States, 1750-1940," American Historical Review 1984 89#3 pp 709–32 in JSTOR
  • Soffer, Reba N History, Historians, and Conservatism in Britain and America: From the Great War to Thatcher and Reagan 2009


  • Fisher, Matthew Scribal Authorship and the Writing of History in Medieval England Ohio State University Press, 2012
  • Gransden, Antonia Historical Writing in England: c 500 to c 1307 Psychology Press, 1996
  • Taylor, John English historical literature in the fourteenth century Oxford University Press, 1987
  • Urbanski, Charity Writing History for the King: Henry II and the Politics of Vernacular Historiography Cornell University Press, 2013


  • Trimble, William Raleigh "Early Tudor Historiography, 1485-1548" Journal of the History of Ideas 11#1 1950: 30-41
  • Woolf, Daniel R The idea of history in early Stuart England: erudition, ideology, and the 'light of truth' from the accession of James I to the Civil War U of Toronto Press, 1990
  • Devereaux, Simon "The Historiography of the English State during ‘the Long Eighteenth Century’: Part I–Decentralized Perspectives" History Compass 73 2009: 742-764
    • Devereaux, Simon "The Historiography of the English State During ‘The Long Eighteenth Century’Part Two–Fiscal‐Military and Nationalist Perspectives" History Compass 88 2010: 843-865

Since 1800edit

  • Brundage, Anthony, and Richard A Cosgrove The great tradition: constitutional history and national identity in Britain and the United States, 1870-1960 Stanford University Press, 2007
  • Goldstein, Doris S "The origins and early years of the English Historical Review", English Historical Review, 101 1986, 6–19
  • Goldstein, Doris S "The organizational development of the British historical profession 1884–1921', Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 55 1982, 180–93
  • Maitzen, Rohan Amanda Gender, Genre, and Victorian Historical Writing Taylor & Francis, 1998
  • Maitzen, Rohan "" This feminine preserve": Historical biographies by Victorian women" Victorian Studies 1995: 371-393 in JSTOR
  • Obelkevich, Jim "New Developments in History in the 1950s and 1960s" Contemporary British History 144 2000: 143-167 online
  • St John, Ian The Historiography of Gladstone and Disraeli Anthem Press, 2016 402 pp


  • Devine, T M and J Wormald, eds The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History Oxford University Press, 2012,
  • Kidd, C Subverting Scotland's Past: Scottish Whig Historians and the Creation of an Anglo-British Identity 1689–1830 Cambridge University Press, 2003

Empire and foreign policyedit

  • Schroeder, Paul W "Old Wine in Old Bottles: Recent Contributions to British Foreign Policy and European International Politics, 1789–1848" Journal of British Studies 2601 1987: 1-25
  • Ward, AW and GP Gooch, eds The Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy, 1783-1919 3 vol, 1921–23, old detailed classic; vol 1, 1783-1815 ; vol 2, 1815-1866; vol 3 1866-1919
  • Wiener, Martin J "The Idea of "Colonial Legacy" and the Historiography of Empire" Journal of The Historical Society 13#1 2013: 1-32
  • Winks, Robin, ed Historiography 1999 vol 5 in William Roger Louis, eds The Oxford History of the British Empire online
  • Winks, Robin W The Historiography of the British Empire-Commonwealth: Trends, Interpretations and Resources 1966; this book is by a different set of authors from the previous 1999 entry online

External linksedit

  • "Making History", Coverage of leading British historians and institutions from the Institute of Historical Research
  • Bibliography of UK historiography from the Institute of Historical Research

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