A.J.P. Taylor

A.J.P. Taylor has written 26 books of history, the latest of which is Politicians, Socialism and Historians. He is a former Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.

Dear Kingsley,

Many thanks for your letter. Far from resenting it, I appreciate very deeply the friendship that it implies. Of course the problem of writing for the Sunday Pic has exercised my mind. But I ask myself: ought I to be content with teaching ten or fifteen undergraduates in Magdalen, or even with writing for the fairly limited readers of the New Statesman and the Manchester...

Diary: Save the Round Reading-Room!

A.J.P. Taylor, 20 February 1986

The late Professor Tate of Manchester University, I have been told, made his last ascent of Scafell pike at the age of 93. I made my last ascent of Pillar at the age of little more than seventy. I used to go abroad at least once a year and often twice. Now I have put all that behind me and have been content for a long time with Yarmouth mill in the Isle of Wight. Last summer I went to Swanage and spent my time in the lavish surroundings of the Grosvenor Hotel.

Diary: A New Carl

A.J.P. Taylor, 5 September 1985

Two activities have brought me pleasure throughout my life. The first is fell walking, as it is called in Lancashire. The second is the systematic visiting of churches. The first I have long renounced. No more scrambles across Kinder Scout pursued by gamekeepers. No more struggles through the mist on Coniston Old Man. Worst of all, no more doing the round of Fairfield Horse Shoe. I doubt whether I could even get to the top of Latter-barrow. One day I must try.

Diary: Standing Up

A.J.P. Taylor, 23 May 1985

One of my many accomplishments is to lecture without notes and standing up. I began this practice when I was an Assistant Lecturer at Manchester University some half a century ago. I reflected that both I and my audience would find my lectures unendurably tedious if I had read them half a dozen times already. I also felt that it was more courteous to stand up when giving a lecture, rather than to sit at a table reading a text written out beforehand. I have stuck to these practices all my working life.

Diary: An Unexpected Experience

A.J.P. Taylor, 6 December 1984

The study of English political history has suffered a grievous loss with the death of Stephen Koss in New York on 25 October last. Though only 44, hardly more than half my age, Stephen had already established himself as an authority of the first rank on British political history in the 19th and 20th centuries. He wrote outstanding biographies of such Liberal leaders as Asquith, John Morley and Haldane, concluding with A.G. Gardiner, long-time editor of the Daily News. He then gave up political biography and wrote an enormous two-volume work on The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain. It is difficult enough to write the history of a single newspaper: Koss handled them without strain by the dozen. He was devoted to England, which he visited for a considerable period nearly every year. Indeed he aspired to an academic post somewhere in England or Scotland, and it is to be much regretted that Stephen’s ambition was never fulfilled. As it was, he was warmly welcomed in English historical communities wherever he went. Many English historians turned to Stephen Koss for guidance and information. I can think of no historian whom I respected more or who guided me better on difficult topics.

Having it both ways

Peter Clarke, 27 January 1994

‘Writing history is like W.C. Fields juggling,’ was how he put it. ‘It looks easy until you try to do it.’ In 1977, when this comment was first published, some younger...

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Nobody wants it

Jose Harris, 5 December 1991

‘A cynic? How can I not be when I have spent my life writing history?’ Alan Taylor’s love letters to his Hungarian third wife created a predictably prurient, though transient,...

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Up to Islip

Rosalind Mitchison, 2 August 1984

The examining in my university is over for the year. After the usual haggling – ‘is this worth 69 or 70?’ – with nasty points of principle raised and evaded, the lists...

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Norman Stone, 22 January 1981

‘Like Goering with culture, I reach for my revolver when offered philosophies of history,’ wrote A.J.P. Taylor some years ago, when the ‘What is History’ theme was going...

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