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Mark Kishlansky

Mark Kishlansky is the Baird Professor of History at Harvard. He is working on a study of the reign of Charles I.

Gerrard Winstanley

Mark Kishlansky, 17 February 2011

The Russians have a saying: ‘The past is unpredictable.’ So it has proved for Gerrard Winstanley. For all but one of his 67 years he lived in obscurity and then he died forgotten. Generations of historians passed over him either in silence or derision. He entirely eluded the notice of the Earl of Clarendon in the 17th century and of David Hume in the 18th. Even the Jacobin William...

Charles II

Mark Kishlansky, 27 May 2010

Harry Widener went down on the Titanic at the age of 27. He was the scion of a wealthy Philadelphia family whose patriarch began life as a street vendor and ended it as one of the richest men in America; one of his early coups was a contract to supply the Union army with meat. Harry grew up amid priceless collections of pictures, coins, and especially books. When he graduated from Harvard in...

The English Civil Wars

Mark Kishlansky, 11 June 2009

Thomas Hardy, it is said, believed the history of humanity could be written in six words: ‘They lived, they suffered, they died.’ As a historical account this was more than adequate. It depicted change over time, contained a point of view, and encapsulated a universally applicable lesson. What detail the story lacked could be supplied by readers, each in their own way. Like many...

The Cavalier Parliament

Mark Kishlansky, 18 December 2008

Annabel Patterson’s passion and sense of justice were inbred, but her belief in what was possible and the drive to achieve it were acquired, learned at a time when women like her were sent to secretarial school. Born in England, she has had a long career in both Canada and the United States; she was a member of the English department at Duke before its immolation, and recently retired...

The Restoration and the Glorious Revolution

Mark Kishlansky, 17 August 2006

In the 1660s, repression gave way to liberation. Samuel Pepys took great pleasure from his debauching of the progeny of such well-known Puritans as ‘Penny’ Penington, whose grandfather Isaac had been the Presbyterian alderman and mayor of London. The Duke of Monmouth had an illegitimate child with Elizabeth Waller, the daughter of the Parliamentarian general, Sir William. The...

The Duchess of Marlborough

Mark Kishlansky, 14 November 2002

The memoirs of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, are among the more remarkable documents of the 18th century. Begun by 1704, they were written, rewritten and ghostwritten over three decades before publication in 1742. An Account of the Conduct of the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, from Her First Coming to Court to the Year 1710 was a none too subtle attempt at vindicating her brief...

Rolodex Man

Mark Kishlansky, 31 October 1996

It is becoming difficult to remember how influential Christopher Hill once was. When E.P. Thompson dedicated Whigs and Hunters to ‘Christopher Hill – Master of more than an old Oxford college’ he was recognising Hill’s stature as a historian, academic and public figure. From his perch as Master of Balliol, he presided over the education of future mandarins and exerted an influence on the intellectual life of Britain. His work, which roamed over more than two centuries of England’s past, transcended his specialisation. He trained a stable of accomplished historians, but his impact on students of literature and general readers was just as great. His textbooks, Century of Revolution (1961) and Reformation to Industrial Revolution (1967), dominated in the schools.’

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