For Church and State

Paul Addison

  • Sir John Seeley and the Uses of History by Deborah Wormell
    Cambridge, 233 pp, £15.00, March 1980, ISBN 0 521 22720 8

John Robert Seeley was Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge between Kingsley and Acton. One of the few eminent Victorians who inspired no memorial biography, he was best remembered as the author of The Expansion of England (1883), a sweeping historical manifesto in favour of the unification of the British Empire. The book survived as long as the Empire itself, but otherwise Seeley was neglected until in recent years Richard Shannon and Sheldon Rothblatt both identified him as a leading figure in the reorientation of the Victorian élite. Plainly there was scope for an intellectual biography to match the ideas to the man, and the task was undertaken as a PhD by Deborah Wormell. It is appalling to learn that she died this February at the age of 33, shortly after revising her thesis for publication. She was a most accomplished intellectual historian.

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