A. J. P. Taylor

Alan John Percivale Taylor FBA (25 March 1906 – 7 September 1990) was an English historian who specialised in 19th- and 20th-century European diplomacy. Both a journalist and a broadcaster, 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".[1]

A. J. P. Taylor
Alan John Percivale Taylor 1977
Taylor in 1977
Alan John Percivale Taylor

25 March 1906
Southport, England
Died7 September 1990 (aged 84)
London, England
Alma materOriel College, Oxford
  • Margaret Adams (m. 1931)
  • Eve Crosland (m. 1951)
  • Éva Haraszti (m. 1976)
AwardsFellow of the British Academy


Early life

Taylor was born in 1906 in Birkdale, Southport, which was then part of Lancashire. His wealthy parents held left-wing views, which he inherited. Both his parents, Percy Lees and Constance Sumner (Thompson) Taylor, were pacifists who vocally opposed the First World War, and sent their son to Quaker schools as a way of protesting against the war. These schools included The Downs School at Colwall and Bootham School in York.[2][3][4] Geoffrey Barraclough, a contemporary at Bootham School, remembered Taylor as "a most arresting, stimulating, vital personality, violently anti-bourgeois and anti-Christian".[5] In 1924, he went to Oriel College, Oxford, to study modern history.

In the 1920s, Taylor's mother, Constance, was a member of the Comintern while one of his uncles was a founder member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Constance was a suffragette, feminist, and advocate of free love who practised her teachings via a string of extramarital affairs, most notably with Henry Sara, a communist who in many ways became Taylor's surrogate father. Taylor has mentioned in his reminiscences that his mother was domineering, but his father enjoyed exasperating her by following his own ways. Taylor had a close relationship with his father, and enjoyed his father's quirkiness. Taylor himself was recruited into the Communist Party of Great Britain by a friend of the family, the military historian Tom Wintringham, while at Oriel; a member from 1924 to 1926, he broke with the Party over what he considered to be its ineffective stand during the 1926 General Strike. After leaving, he was an ardent supporter of the Labour Party for the rest of his life, remaining a member for over sixty years.[6] Despite his break with the Communist Party, he visited the Soviet Union in 1925, and again in 1934.

Academic career

Taylor graduated from Oxford in 1927. After working briefly as a legal clerk, he began his post-graduate work, going to Vienna to study the impact of the Chartist movement on the Revolution of 1848. When this topic turned out not to be feasible, he switched to studying the question of Italian unification over a two-year period. This resulted in his first book, The Italian Problem in European Diplomacy, 1847–49 published in 1934.[5]

Manchester years

Taylor lectured in history at the University of Manchester from 1930 to 1938.[7] He came with his wife to live firstly in an unfurnished flat (before they could get a furnished one) at the top floor of an eighteenth-century house opposite the entrance to Didsbury Park called The Limes at 148 Wilmslow Road at the southern end of Didsbury village and set back from the street (still there in 2013).[8]

Oxford years

He became a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1938, a post he held until 1976. He also lectured in modern history at Oxford from 1938 to 1963. At Oxford he was such an extraordinarily popular speaker he had to give his lectures at 8:30 a.m. to avoid the room becoming over-crowded.

In 1962, Taylor wrote in a review of The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845–1849 by Cecil Woodham-Smith that: "All Ireland was a Belsen. ... The English governing class ran true to form. They had killed two million Irish people."[9] Taylor added that if the death rate from the Irish Potato Famine was not higher it "was not for want of trying" on the part of the British government, writing: "I have always felt a certain horror of political economists since I heard one of them say that the Famine in Ireland would not kill more than a million people, and that would scarcely be enough to do much good."[9] Taylor later reprinted his book review under the stark title "Genocide" in his 1976 book Essays in English History."[9]

In 1964, when Oxford refused to renew his term as lecturer in the aftermath of the controversy occasioned by The Origins of the Second World War, he became a lecturer at the Institute of Historical Research in London, University College London, and the Polytechnic of North London.

An important step in Taylor's "rehabilitation" was a festschrift organised in his honour by Martin Gilbert in 1965. He was honoured with two more festschriften, in 1976 and 1986. The festschriften were testaments to his popularity with his former students as receiving even a single festschrift is considered to be an extraordinary and rare honour.

Second World War

During the Second World War, Taylor served in the Home Guard and befriended émigré statesmen from Eastern Europe, such as the former Hungarian President Count Mihály Károlyi and Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš. These friendships helped to enhance his understanding of the region. His friendship with Beneš and Károlyi may help explain his friendly portrayal of them, in particular Károlyi, whom Taylor portrayed as a saintly figure. Taylor became friends with Hubert Ripka, the press attache for Beneš, who lived in Oxford, and through him, got to know President Beneš who lived in London.[10] Taylor wrote that because Beneš was a President, "he was not allowed to brave the front line in London and had to live in a sovereign state at Aston Abbots-a Rothschild house of, for them, a modest standard. Bored and isolated, Beneš summoned an audience whatever he could and I was often swept over to Aston Abbots in the presidential car".[10] In 1943, Taylor wrote his first pamphlet, Czechoslovakia's Place in a Free Europe, explaining his view that Czechoslovakia would after the war serve as a "bridge" between the Western world and the Soviet Union.[10] Czechoslovakia's Place in a Free Europe began as a lecture Taylor had given at the Czechoslovak Institute in London on 29 April 1943 and at the suggestion of Jan Masaryk was turned into a pamphlet to explain Czechoslovakia's situation to the British people.[10] Taylor argued that the Czechoslovaks would have to "explain" to the Soviets and "explain" socialism to the British, saying: "You must appear to the English people as communists and to the Russians as democrats and therefore receive nothing, but abuse from both sides".[10] Czechoslovakia's Place in a Free Europe reflected Beneš's theory of "convergence" as he felt based on what he was seeing in wartime Britain that the western nations would become socialist after the war while the Soviet Union would become more democratic. In 1945, Taylor wrote: "Beck, Stojadinović, Antonescu, and Bonnet despised Beneš's integrity and prided themselves on their cunning; but their countries, too, fell before the German aggressor, and every step they took has made the resurrection of their countries more difficult. In contrast, the foreign policy of Dr. Beneš during the present war has won Czechoslovakia a secure future".[11] During the same period, Taylor was employed by the Political Warfare Executive as an expert on Central Europe and frequently spoke on the radio and at various public meetings. During the war, he lobbied for British recognition of Josip Broz Tito's Partisans as the legitimate government of Yugoslavia.

Move from Oxford to London

In 1964, while he retained his college fellowship, the University of Oxford declined to renew Taylor's appointment as a university lecturer in modern history. This apparently sudden decision came in the aftermath of the controversy around his book The Origins of the Second World War. Moving to London, he became a lecturer at the Institute of Historical Research at University College London and also at the Polytechnic of North London.[12]

Resignation from British Academy

In 1979, Taylor resigned in protest from the British Academy over its dismissal of Anthony Blunt, who had been exposed as a Soviet spy. Taylor took the position that:[12]

It's none of our business, as a group of scholars, to consider matters of this sort. The academy's only concern should be his scholarly credentials, which are unaffected by all this.

Personal life

Taylor married three times. He married his first wife, Margaret Adams, in 1931 (divorced in 1951) and with her he had four children. For a time in the 1930s, he and his wife shared a house with the writer Malcolm Muggeridge and his wife Kitty. It was suggested that he had had an affair with Kitty Muggeridge.

Taylor lived for a while in Disley, Cheshire, where Dylan Thomas (who was his first wife's lover) was his guest; he later provided Thomas with a cottage in Oxford so that he could recover from a breakdown. His second wife was Eve Crosland, whom Taylor married in 1951 and divorced in 1974; he had two children by her. Even after divorcing Margaret Adams, Taylor continued to live with her, while maintaining a household with Eve. His third wife was the Hungarian historian Éva Haraszti, whom he married in 1976.[13]


The Italian Problem in European Diplomacy, 1847–49

Taylor's first book, published in 1934, addressed the question of Italian unification The Italian Problem in European Diplomacy, 1847–49 . However, Taylor's speciality was in Central European, British and diplomatic history. He was especially interested in the Habsburg dynasty and Bismarck. His main mentors in this period were the Austrian-born historian Alfred Francis Pribram and the Polish-born historian Sir Lewis Namier. Taylor's earlier writings reflected Pribram's favourable opinion of the Habsburgs; however, his 1941 book The Habsburg Monarchy 1809–1918 (published in a revised edition in 1948) showed the influence of Namier's unfavourable views. In The Habsburg Monarchy, Taylor stated that the Habsburgs saw their realms entirely as a tool for foreign policy and thus could never build a genuine nation-state. To hold their realm together, they resorted to playing one ethnic group off against another and promoted German and Magyar hegemony over the other ethnic groups in Austria-Hungary.

The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848–1918

In 1954 he published his masterpiece, The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848–1918 and followed it up with The Trouble Makers in 1957, a critical study of British foreign policy. The Trouble Makers was a celebration of those who had criticised the government over foreign policy, a subject dear to his heart. The Trouble Makers had originally been the Ford Lectures in 1955 and was his favourite book by far. When invited to deliver the Ford Lectures, he was initially at a loss for a topic, and it was his friend Alan Bullock who suggested the topic of foreign policy dissent.[14]

Bismarck: The Man and the Statesman

The recurring theme of accidents deciding history appeared in Taylor's best-selling 1955 biography of Bismarck. Taylor controversially argued that the Iron Chancellor had unified Germany more by accident than by design; a theory that contradicted those put forward by the historians Heinrich von Sybel, Leopold von Ranke, and Heinrich von Treitschke in the latter years of the 19th century, and by other historians more recently.

The Origins of the Second World War

In 1961, he published his most controversial book, The Origins of the Second World War, which earned him a reputation as a revisionist.[15] Gordon Martel notes that "it made a profound impact. The book became a classic and a central point of reference in all discussion on the Second World War."[15]

In the book Taylor argued against the widespread belief that the outbreak of the Second World War (specifically between Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom and France, September 1939) was the result of an intentional plan on the part of Adolf Hitler. He began his book with the statement that too many people have accepted uncritically what he called the "Nuremberg Thesis", that the Second World War was the result of criminal conspiracy by a small gang comprising Hitler and his associates. He regarded the "Nuremberg Thesis" as too convenient for too many people and held that it shielded the blame for the war from the leaders of other states, let the German people avoid any responsibility for the war and created a situation where West Germany was a respectable Cold War ally against the Soviets.

Taylor's thesis was that Hitler was not the demoniacal figure of popular imagination but in foreign affairs a normal German leader. Citing Fritz Fischer, he argued that the foreign policy of the Third Reich was the same as those of the Weimar Republic and the Second Reich. Moreover, in a partial break with his view of German history advocated in The Course of German History, he argued that Hitler was not just a normal German leader but also a normal Western leader. As a normal Western leader, Hitler was no better or worse than Gustav Stresemann, Neville Chamberlain or Édouard Daladier. His argument was that Hitler wished to make Germany the strongest power in Europe but he did not want or plan war. The outbreak of war in 1939 was an unfortunate accident caused by mistakes on everyone's part and was not a part of Hitler's plan.

Notably, Taylor portrayed Hitler as a grasping opportunist with no beliefs other than the pursuit of power and anti-Semitism. He argued that Hitler did not possess any sort of programme and his foreign policy was one of drift and seizing chances as they offered themselves. He did not even consider Hitler's anti-Semitism unique: he argued that millions of Germans were just as ferociously anti-Semitic as Hitler and there was no reason to single out Hitler for sharing the beliefs of millions of others.

Taylor argued that the basic problem with an interwar Europe was a flawed Treaty of Versailles that was sufficiently onerous to ensure that the overwhelming majority of Germans would always hate it, but insufficiently onerous in that it failed to destroy Germany's potential to be a Great Power once more. In this way, Taylor argued that the Versailles Treaty was destabilising, for sooner or later the innate power of Germany that the Allies had declined to destroy in 1918–1919 would inevitably reassert itself against the Versailles Treaty and the international system established by Versailles that the Germans regarded as unjust and thus had no interest in preserving. Though Taylor argued that the Second World War was not inevitable and that the Versailles Treaty was nowhere near as harsh as contemporaries like John Maynard Keynes believed, what he regarded as a flawed peace settlement made the war more likely than not.

English History 1914–1945

In 1965 he rebounded from the controversy surrounding The Origins of the Second World War with the spectacular success of his book English History 1914–1945, his only venture into social and cultural history, where he offered a loving, affectionate portrayal of the years between 1914 and 1945. English History 1914–1945 was an enormous best-seller and in its first year in print sold more than all of the previous volumes of the Oxford History of England combined. Though he felt there was much to be ashamed of in British history, especially in regard to Ireland, he was very proud to be British and more specifically English. He was fond of stressing his nonconformist Northern English background and saw himself as part of a grand tradition of radical dissent that he regarded as the real glorious history of England.

The Reichstag Fire (introduction)

In 1964 Taylor wrote the introduction for The Reichstag Fire by the journalist Fritz Tobias. He thus became the first English-language historian and the first historian after Hans Mommsen to accept the conclusions of the book, that the Nazis had not set the Reichstag on fire in 1933 and that Marinus van der Lubbe had acted alone. Tobias and Taylor argued that the new Nazi government had been looking for something to increase its share of the vote in the elections of 5 March 1933, so as to activate the Enabling Act and that van der Lubbe had serendipitously (for the Nazis) provided it by burning down the Reichstag. Even without the Reichstag fire, the Nazis were quite determined to destroy German democracy. In Taylor's opinion, van der Lubbe had made their task easier by providing a pretext. Moreover, the German Communist propaganda chief Willi Münzenberg and his OGPU handlers had manufactured all of the evidence implicating the Nazis in the arson. In particular, Tobias and Taylor pointed out that the so-called "secret tunnels" that supposedly gave the Nazis access to the Reichstag were in fact tunnels for water piping. At the time Taylor was widely attacked by many other historians for endorsing what was considered to be a self-evident perversion of established historical facts.

War by Timetable

In his 1969 book War by Timetable, Taylor examined the origins of the First World War, concluding that though all of the great powers wished to increase their own power relative to the others, none consciously sought war before 1914. Instead, he argued that all of the great powers believed that if they possessed the ability to mobilise their armed forces faster than any of the others, this would serve as a sufficient deterrent to avoid war and allow them to achieve their foreign policy. Thus, the general staffs of the great powers developed elaborate timetables to mobilise faster than any of their rivals. When the crisis broke in 1914, though none of the statesmen of Europe wanted a world war, the need to mobilise faster than potential rivals created an inexorable movement towards war. Thus Taylor claimed that the leaders of 1914 became prisoners of the logic of the mobilisation timetables and the timetables that were meant to serve as deterrent to war instead relentlessly brought war.

Beaverbrook: A Biography

In the 1950s and 1960s, Taylor befriended Lord Beaverbrook and later wrote his biography in 1972. Beaverbrook, Canadian in origin, was a Conservative who believed strongly in the British Empire and whose entry into politics was in support of Bonar Law, a Conservative leader strongly connected with the establishment of Northern Ireland. Despite the disdain for most politicians expressed in his writings, Taylor was fascinated by politics and politicians and often cultivated relations with those who possessed power. Beside Lord Beaverbrook, whose company Taylor very much enjoyed, his favourite politician was the Labour Party leader Michael Foot, whom he often described as the greatest Prime Minister Britain never had.


Taylor also wrote significant introductions to British editions of Marx's The Communist Manifesto and of Ten Days that Shook the World, by John Reed. He had long been an advocate of a treaty with the Soviet Union so British Communists expected him to be friendly. In 1963, the British Communist Party, which held the copyright to Ten Days that Shook the World in the United Kingdom, offered Taylor the opportunity to write the introduction to a new edition. The introduction Taylor wrote was fairly sympathetic towards the Bolsheviks. However, it also pointed out certain contradictions between Reed's book and the official historiography in the Soviet Union—for instance, that Leon Trotsky played a very prominent, heroic role in Ten Days That Shook The World while in 1963 Trotsky was almost a non-person in Soviet historiography, mentioned only in terms of abuse. The British Communist Party rejected Taylor's introduction as anti-Soviet. The rejection annoyed Taylor. When the copyright expired in 1977 and a non-Communist publisher reissued the book, asking Taylor to write the introduction, he strengthened some of his criticisms. Taylor also wrote the introduction for Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain by Len Deighton.


Starting in 1931, Taylor worked as book reviewer for the Manchester Guardian, and from 1957 he was a columnist with the Observer. In 1951 Taylor made his first move into mass-market journalism, spending just over a year as a columnist at the tabloid Sunday Pictorial, later renamed the Sunday Mirror. His first article was an attack on the stance of the United Nations during the Korean War, in which he argued that the UN was merely a front for American policy.[16] After leaving the Sunday Pictorial in 1952, in the wake of editor Philip Zec's dismissal, he began writing a weekly column the following year for the Daily Herald until 1956. From 1957 until 1982 he wrote for the Sunday Express, owned by his friend and patron Lord Beaverbrook. His first column for that paper was "Why Must We Soft-Soap The Germans?",[17] in which he complained that the majority of Germans were still Nazis at heart and argued the European Economic Community was little more than an attempt by the Germans to achieve via trade what they failed to accomplish through arms in the First and Second World Wars. At a time when the relationship with the EEC was a major issue in Britain, Taylor's pro-Commonwealth Euroscepticism became a common theme in many of his articles.[18][19][20][21][22] Other frequent targets were the BBC, the anti-smoking lobby, and reversing his earlier stance, the motor car, with Taylor calling for all private motor vehicles to be banned.[23]


The Second World War gave Taylor the opportunity to branch out from print journalism, initially into radio and then later television. On 17 March 1942 Taylor made the first of seven appearances on The World at War – Your Questions Answered broadcast by BBC Forces' Radio. After the war Taylor became one of the first television historians. His appearances began with his role as a panellist on the BBC's In The News from 1950 to 1954. Here he was noted for his argumentative style, and in one episode he declined to acknowledge the presence of the other panellists. The press came to refer to him as the "sulky don" and in 1954 he was dropped. From 1955 Taylor was a panellist on ITV's rival discussion programme Free Speech, where he remained until the series ended in 1961. In 1957, 1957–1958 and 1961 he made a number of half-hour programmes on ITV in which he lectured without notes on a variety of topics, such as the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the First World War. These were huge ratings successes. Despite earlier strong feelings against the BBC, he lectured for a BBC historical series in 1961 and made more series for it in 1963, 1976, 1977 and 1978. He also hosted additional series for ITV in 1964, 1966 and 1967. In Edge of Britain in 1980 he toured the towns of northern England. Taylor's final TV appearance was in the series How Wars End in 1985, where the effects of Parkinson's disease on him were apparent.

Taylor had a famous rivalry with the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, with whom he often debated on television. One of the more famous exchanges took place in 1961. Trevor-Roper said "I'm afraid that your book The Origins of the Second World War may damage your reputation as a historian", to which Taylor replied "Your criticism of me would damage your reputation as a historian, if you had one."

The origins of the dispute went back to 1957 when the Regius Professorship for History at Oxford was vacant. Despite their divergent political philosophies, Taylor and Trevor-Roper had been friends since the early 1950s, but with the possibility of the Regius Professorship, both men lobbied for it. The Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan awarded the chair to the Tory Trevor-Roper rather than the Labourite Taylor. In addition, a number of the other Oxford dons had felt that Taylor's profile in journalism was "demeaning" to the historian's craft and had lobbied against him.

In public, Taylor declared that he would never have accepted any honour from a government that had "the blood of Suez on its hands". In private, he was furious with Trevor-Roper for holding an honour that Taylor considered rightfully his. Adding to Taylor's rancour was the fact that he had arrived at Oxford a decade before Trevor-Roper. From then on, Taylor never missed a chance to disparage Trevor-Roper's character or scholarship. The famously combative Trevor-Roper reciprocated. The feud was given much publicity by the media, not so much because of the merits of their disputes but rather because their acrimonious debates on television made for entertaining viewing. Likewise, the various articles written by Taylor and Trevor-Roper denouncing each other's scholarship, in which both men's considerable powers of invective were employed with maximum effect, made for entertaining reading. Beyond that, it was fashionable to portray the dispute between Taylor and Trevor-Roper as a battle between generations. Taylor, with his populist, irreverent style, was nearly a decade older than Trevor-Roper, but was represented by the media as a symbol of the younger generation that was coming of age in the 1950s–1960s. Trevor-Roper, who was unabashedly old-fashioned (he was one of the last Oxford dons to lecture wearing his professor's robes) and inclined to behave in a manner that the media portrayed as pompous and conceited, was seen as a symbol of the older generation. A subtle but important difference in the style between the two historians was their manner of addressing each other during their TV debates: Trevor-Roper always addressed Taylor as "Mr Taylor" or just "Taylor", while Taylor always addressed Trevor-Roper as "Hugh".

Another frequent sparring partner on TV for Taylor was the writer Malcolm Muggeridge. The frequent television appearances helped to make Taylor the most famous British historian of the 20th century. It was a measure of his fame that featured in a cameo in the 1981 film Time Bandits and was satirised in an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, in which a scantily clad woman (identified by an onscreen caption as "A. J. P. Taylor, Historian"), dubbed over with a man's voice, delivers a lecture on "Eighteenth Century Social Reform".[24] Another foray into the world of entertainment occurred in the 1960s when he served as the historical consultant for both the stage and film versions of Oh, What a Lovely War!. Though he possessed great charm and charisma and a sense of humour, as he aged he presented himself as, and came to be seen as, cantankerous and irascible.


Throughout his life, Taylor took public stands on the great issues of his time. In the early 1930s, he was in a left-wing pacifist group called the Manchester Peace Council, for which he frequently spoke in public. Until 1936, Taylor was an opponent of British rearmament as he felt that a re-armed Britain would ally itself with Germany against the Soviet Union. However, after 1936, he resigned from the Manchester Peace Council, urged British rearmament in the face of what Taylor considered to be the Nazi menace, and advocated an Anglo-Soviet alliance to contain Germany. After 1936, he also fervently criticised appeasement, a stance that he would disavow in 1961.

In 1938, he denounced the Munich Agreement at several rallies and may have written several leaders in the Manchester Guardian criticising it; later, he would compare the smaller number of Czechoslovak dead with the number of Polish dead. In October 1938, Taylor attracted particular controversy by a speech he gave at a dinner held every October to commemorate a protest by a group of Oxford dons against James II in 1688, an event that was an important prelude to the Glorious Revolution. He denounced the Munich Agreement and those who supported it, warning the assembled dons that if action were not taken immediately to resist Nazi Germany, then they might all soon be living under the rule of a much greater tyrant than James II. Taylor's speech was highly contentious, in part because in October 1938 the Munich Agreement was popular with the public even if subsequently it was to be reviled along with the policy of appeasement, and also because he used a non-partisan and non-political occasion to make a highly partisan, politically charged attack on government policy.

Throughout his life, Taylor was sympathetic to the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, and after 1941 he was overjoyed to have the Soviet Union as Britain's ally, as this was the realisation of his desire for an Anglo-Soviet alliance. The Second World War further increased Taylor's pro-Soviet feelings, as he was always profoundly grateful for the Red Army's role in destroying Nazi Germany. Despite his pro-Soviet views he was strongly critical of Stalinism, and in 1948 he attended and did his best to sabotage a Stalinist cultural congress in Wrocław, Poland. His speech, which was broadcast live on Polish radio and via speakers on the streets of Wrocław, about the right of everyone to hold different views from those who hold power, was enthusiastically received by the delegates and was met with thunderous applause. The speech was clearly intended as a rebuttal of a speech given by the Soviet writer Alexander Fadeyev the previous day, who had demanded obedience on the part of everyone to Joseph Stalin.

After 1945, he was very disappointed to see Britain choose the United States, not the Soviet Union, as its major ally. As a socialist, Taylor saw the capitalist system as wrong on practical and moral grounds, although he rejected the Marxist view that capitalism was responsible for wars and conflicts. He felt that the status quo in the West was highly unstable and prone to accidents, and prevented a just and moral international system from coming into being. Moreover, Taylor was enraged by the decision of the Western powers, which he blamed on the US, to re-build and establish the West German state in the late 1940s, which Taylor saw as laying the foundations for a Fourth Reich that would one day plunge the world back into war.

He also blamed the United States for the Cold War, and in the 1950s and 1960s was one of the leading lights of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Though he preferred that the United Kingdom be neutral in the Cold War, he felt that if Britain should have to align itself with a major power, the best partner was the Soviet Union rather than America, which in Taylor's opinion was carrying out reckless policies that increased the risk of World War Three. Taylor never visited the United States, despite receiving many invitations.

In 1950 he was again temporarily banned by the BBC when he attempted to deliver a radio address against British participation in the Korean War. After a public outcry, the BBC relented and allowed him to deliver his address. In 1956 Taylor demonstrated against the Suez War, though not the Soviet crushing of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, which he believed had saved Hungary from a return to the rule of Admiral Miklós Horthy. He also championed Israel, which he saw as a model socialist democracy threatened by reactionary Arab dictatorships. Taylor was also opposed to, and condemned, the US intervention in the Vietnam War.

Taylor was also opposed to the British Empire and against Britain's participation in the European Economic Community and NATO.

In an interview with Irish State radio in April 1976, Taylor argued that the British presence in Northern Ireland was perpetuating the conflict there. Taylor claimed the best solution would be for an "armed push" by the Irish nationalists to drive out the one million Ulster Protestants from Ireland. He cited as a successful precedent the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. On the threat of civil war should Britain quit Ireland, Taylor answered: "What we have, after all, is an incipient civil war. To put it brutally, if there were a civil war in Northern Ireland, and I am not convinced that there would be, quite a lot of people would be killed and the war would be decided within a few months. Spread over the years, probably more people have been killed".[25]

Taylor was fearless in championing unpopular people and causes. In 1980, he resigned from the British Academy in protest against the expulsion of the art historian and Soviet spy Anthony Blunt, which he saw as an act of McCarthyism. Closer to his work as a historian, Taylor championed less government secrecy and, paradoxically for a staunch leftist, fought for more privately owned television stations. His experiences with being banned by the BBC had led him to appreciate the value of having many broadcasters. In regard to government archives, Taylor took part in a successful attempt to lobby the British government to replace the 50-year rule with a 30-year rule.


Taylor held fierce Germanophobic views. In 1944, he was temporarily banned from the BBC following complaints about a series of lectures he gave on air in which he gave full vent to his anti-German feelings. In his 1945 book, The Course of German History, he argued that National Socialism was the inevitable product of the entire history of the Germans going back to the days of the Germanic tribes. He was an early champion of what has since been called the Sonderweg (Special Way) interpretation of German history, that German culture and society developed over the centuries in such a way as to make Nazi Germany inevitable. Moreover, he argued that there was a symbiotic relationship between Hitler and the German people, with Adolf Hitler needing the Germans to fulfil his dreams of conquest and the German people needing Hitler to fulfil their dreams of subjugation of their neighbours. In particular, he accused the Germans of waging an endless Drang nach Osten against their Slavic neighbours since the days of Charlemagne. For Taylor, Nazi racial imperialism was a continuation of policies pursued by every German ruler. The Course of German History was a best-seller in both the United Kingdom and the United States; it was the success of this book that made Taylor's reputation in the United States. Its success also marked the beginning of the breach between Taylor and his mentor Namier, who wanted to write a similar book. By the 1950s, relations between Taylor and Namier had noticeably cooled and in his 1983 autobiography, A Personal History, Taylor, though acknowledging a huge intellectual debt to Namier, portrayed him as a pompous bore.


Taylor's approach to history was a populist one. He felt that history should be open to all and enjoyed being called the "People's Historian" and the "Everyman's Historian". He usually favoured an anti-Great man theory, history being made for the most part by towering figures of stupidity rather than of genius. In his view, leaders did not make history; instead they reacted to events — what happened in the past was due to sequences of blunders and errors that were largely outside anyone's control. To the extent that anyone made anything happen in history, it was only through their mistakes.

Though Taylor normally preferred to portray leaders as fools blundering their way forward, it is fair to add that he did think that individuals sometimes could play a positive role in history—his heroes were Vladimir Lenin and David Lloyd George. But for Taylor, people like Lloyd George and Lenin were the exceptions. 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) he famously concluded his biographical footnote of Churchill with the phrase "the saviour of his country."[26] Another person Taylor admired was the historian E. H. Carr, who was his favourite historian and a good friend.

Irony and humour

His narratives used irony and humour to entertain as well as inform. He examined history from odd angles, exposing what he considered to be the pomposities of various historical characters. He was famed for "Taylorisms": witty, epigrammatic, and sometimes cryptic remarks that were meant to expose what he considered to be the absurdities and paradoxes of modern international relations. An example is in his television piece Mussolini (1970), in which he said the dictator "kept up with his work — by doing none." Or, about Metternich's political philosophies: "Most men could do better while shaving". His determination to bring history to everyone drove his frequent appearances on radio and later on television. He was also careful to puncture any aura of infallibility that historians might have. On one occasion when asked what he thought the future might bring, he replied "Dear boy, you should never ask an historian to predict the future – frankly we have a hard enough time predicting the past." Taylor wrote about English History 1914-1945 that he offered up a parody of Oxford historians:"...delivering the Judgement of History in the highest Olympian spirit. I followed their example except the poor were always right and the rich always wrong-a judgement that happens to be correct historically. Some of the details were also a parody, as for instance the solemn discussion as when 'Fuck' attained literary through not conversational respectability. I had more fun writing English History 1914-1945 than in writing any of my other books".[27]

"The Establishment"

Taylor has been credited with coining the term "the Establishment" in a 1953 book review, but this is disputed. On 29 August 1953, in reviewing a biography of William Cobbett in New Statesman, Taylor wrote "The Establishment draws in recruits from outside as soon as they are ready to conform to its standards and become respectable. There is nothing more agreeable in life than to make peace with the Establishment — and nothing more corrupting."

Speed Limits

In 1967, Taylor wrote an article for the Sunday Express in which he argued that speed limits had made absolutely no positive difference to road safety and that 'on the contrary, [speed limits] tend to increase the risks and dangers'. Taylor went on to claim 'I have been driving a car for 45 years. I have consistently ignored all the various speed limits. Never once have I encountered the slightest risk as a result'. The article caused a member of the public to lodge a complaint with the Press Council, on the grounds that Taylor's remarks 'amount[ed] to an indirect incitement to drivers to break the law'. The Council eventually rejected the complaint and ruled that 'while Mr Taylor's views are controversial, he has an unchallengeable right to express them'.[28][29]


The Origins of the Second World War

The Origins of the Second World War was received negatively in some quarters when it was published in 1961. The book set off a huge storm of controversy and debate that lasted for years. At least part of the vehement criticism was due to the confusion in the public's mind between Taylor's book and another book published in 1961, Der Erzwungene Krieg (The Forced War) by the American historian David Hoggan. Taylor criticised Hoggan's thesis that Germany was the innocent victim of an Anglo-Polish conspiracy in 1939 as nonsense but many critics confused Taylor's thesis with Hoggan's. Most of the criticism was over Taylor's arguments for appeasement as a rational political strategy, his mechanistic portrayal of a world destined for another world war by post-war settlement of 1918–1919, his depiction of the Second World War as an "accident" caused by diplomatic blunders, his portrayal of Hitler as a "normal leader" and what many considered his flippant dismissal of Nazi ideology as a motivating force. Leading the charge against Taylor was his arch-enemy Trevor-Roper, who contended that Taylor had wilfully and egregiously misinterpreted the evidence. In particular, Trevor-Roper criticised Taylor's argument that the Hossbach Memorandum of 1937 was a meaningless document because none of the scenarios outlined in the Memorandum as the prerequisite for war such as the Spanish Civil War leading to a war between Italy and France in the Mediterranean or civil war breaking out in France occurred. In Trevor-Roper's opinion, what really mattered about the Hossbach Memorandum was that Hitler clearly expressed an intention to go to war sooner rather than later and it was Hitler's intentions rather than his plans at the time which mattered. However, in the newest edition of the book, Taylor argues that the significant parts, if not the whole, of the memorandum are in fact fabrications. Other historians who criticised The Origins of the Second World War included; Isaac Deutscher, Louis Morton, Barbara Tuchman, Ian Morrow, Gerhard Weinberg, G.F. Hudson, Elizabeth Wiskemann, W.N. Medlicott, Tim Mason, John Lukacs, Karl Dietrich Bracher, Frank Freidel, Harry Hinsley, John Wheeler-Bennett, Golo Mann, Lucy Dawidowicz, Gordon A. Craig, A. L. Rowse, Raymond Sontag, Andreas Hillgruber and Yehuda Bauer. Rowse, who had once been a close friend of Taylor's, attacked him with an intensity and vehemence that was second only to Trevor-Roper's. In addition, several historians wrote books on the origins of the Second World War with the aim of refuting Taylor's thesis. Taylor was angered by some of the criticism, especially the implication that he had set out to exonerate Hitler, writing that "to the best of my recollection, those who now display indignation against me were not active [against appeasement] on the public platform."[30] Some notable examples include Gerhard Weinberg's two-volume The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany and Andreas Hillgruber's Deutschlands Rolle in der Vorgeschichte der beiden Weltkriege, translated as Germany And The Two World Wars.

The issue of misinterpretation is also addressed in Gordon A. Craig's book Germany: 1866–1945, where it is argued that Taylor dismissed Hitler's foreign policy, as presented in Mein Kampf, and in particular, the remilitarisation of the Rhineland, as a jumble of idle thoughts written down under the impact of the French occupation of the Ruhr.

As angry as the reaction in Britain was to The Origins of the Second World War, it was greater when the book was published in January 1962 in the United States. With the exception of Harry Elmer Barnes and Murray Rothbard,[31] every American historian who reviewed Taylor's book gave it a negative review. Perhaps ironically, Taylor had indirectly criticised Barnes when he wrote contemptuously of certain self-styled American Revisionist historians whose work Taylor characterised as marked by obsessive loathing for their own country, nostalgia for isolationism, hatred for the New Deal and a tendency to engage in bizarre conspiracy theories. Despite the best efforts of Barnes and his protégé David Hoggan to recruit Taylor to their cause, Taylor always made clear that he wanted nothing to do with either Barnes or Hoggan.

Despite the criticism, The Origins of the Second World War is regarded as a watershed in the historiography of the origins of the Second World War. In general, historians have praised Taylor for the following:

  • By showing that appeasement was a popular policy and that there was continuity in British foreign policy after 1933, he shattered the common view of the appeasers as a small, degenerate clique that had mysteriously hijacked the British government sometime in the 1930s and who had carried out their policies in the face of massive public resistance.
  • By portraying the leaders of the 1930s as real people attempting to deal with real problems, he made the first strides towards attempting an explanation of the actions of the appeasers rather than merely condemning them.
  • By showing that the Anschluss was enormously popular in Austria, he helped to discredit the notion of Austria as a victim of Nazi aggression brought unwillingly into the Reich.
  • By being one of the first historians to present Hitler as an ordinary human being rather than as a "madman", Taylor helped to open the door to seeing Hitler as a human being, albeit one who held morally repellent beliefs, offering possibilities to explain his actions.
  • By being the first English language historian to bring attention to the work of the French economist and historian Étienne Mantoux, especially his 1946 book The Carthaginian Peace: or The Economic Consequences of Mr Keynes, he was able to show that Germany was capable of paying reparations to France after the First World War; the only problem was that the Germans were unwilling. In this way, he started an important debate over who was really responsible for the hyperinflation that destroyed the German economy in 1923.
  • By highlighting certain continuities in German foreign policy between 1871 and 1939, he helped to place Nazi foreign policy in a wider perspective, though the degree of continuity is still subject to considerable debate.
  • By focusing on the improvised character of German and Italian foreign policy, he helped to create a debate over the degree to which fascist states were fulfilling a programme versus taking advantage of events.
  • By showing that Hitler just as often reacted as acted, he offered a balance to previous accounts where Hitler was portrayed as the sole agent and the leaders of Britain and France as entirely reactive.
  • Finally, in response to Taylor's argument that Hitler had no programme because his foreign policy seemed to operate in a haphazard and slapdash way, Taylor's critics such as Trevor-Roper worked out a formula by which Hitler held "consistent aims" but sought to achieve them via "flexible methods".

Portrayal of Mussolini

Another criticism is of Taylor's views on Italy. Taylor drew a picture of Benito Mussolini as a great showman but an inept leader with no beliefs. The first part of this picture has not been generally challenged by historians but the second part has been questioned. Taylor argued that Mussolini was sincere when he helped forge the Stresa Front with Britain and France to resist any German challenge to the status quo in Europe and that only the League of Nations sanctions imposed on Fascist Italy for Italian invasion of Ethiopia drove Mussolini into an alliance with Nazi Germany. Recently, a number of specialists in Italian history have challenged this by arguing that Mussolini possessed a belief in the spazio vitale (vital space) as a guiding foreign policy concept in which the entire Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa were regarded as rightfully belonging to Italy, leading to inevitable conflict with the two dominant Mediterranean powers, Britain and France.

The French Third Republic

Finally, Taylor has been criticised for promoting the La décadence view of the French Third Republic. This historical concept portrays the Third Republic as a decadent state, forever on the verge of collapse. In particular, advocates of the La décadence concept have asserted that inter-war France was riven by political instability; possessed a leadership that was deeply divided, corrupt, incompetent and pusillanimous, which ruled over a nation rent by mass unemployment, strikes, a sense of despair over the future, riots and a state of near-civil war between the Left and the Right. Of all the French governments of the interwar era, only the Popular Front government of Léon Blum was presented sympathetically by Taylor, which he praised for carrying out what he regarded as long overdue social reforms. Many experts in French history have admitted that there is a kernel of truth to Taylor's picture of France but have complained that Taylor presented French politics and society in such a manner as to border on caricature.


Taylor was badly injured in 1984 when he was run over by a car while crossing Old Compton Street in London. The effect of the accident led to his retirement in 1985. In his last years, he endured Parkinson's disease, which left him incapable of writing. His last public appearance was at his 80th birthday, in 1986, when a group of his former students, including Sir Martin Gilbert, Alan Sked, Norman Davies and Paul Kennedy, organised a public reception in his honour. He had, with considerable difficulty, memorised a short speech, which he delivered in a manner that managed to hide the fact that his memory and mind had been permanently damaged by Parkinson's disease.

In 1987, he entered a nursing home in Barnet, London, where he died on 7 September 1990 aged 84. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium.[4]


  • The Italian Problem in European Diplomacy, 1847–1849, 1934.
  • (editor) The Struggle for Supremacy in Germany, 1859–1866 by Heinrich Friedjung, 1935.
  • Germany's First Bid for Colonies 1884–1885: a Move in Bismarck's European Policy, 1938.
  • The Habsburg Monarchy 1809–1918, 1941, revised edition 1948, reissued in 1966 OCLC 4311308.
  • The Course of German history: a Survey of the Development of Germany since 1815, 1945. Reissued in 1962. OCLC 33368634
  • Trieste, (London: Yugoslav Information Office, 1945). 32 pages.
  • Co-edited with R. Reynolds British Pamphleteers, 1948.
  • Co-edited with Alan Bullock A Select List of Books on European History, 1949.
  • From Napoleon to Stalin, 1950.
  • Rumours of Wars, 1952.
  • The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848–1918 (Oxford History of Modern Europe), 1954. online free
  • Bismarck: the Man and Statesman, 1955. Reissued by Vintage Books in 1967 OCLC 351039.
  • Englishmen and Others, 1956.
  • co-edited with Sir Richard Pares Essays Presented to Sir Lewis Namier, 1956.
  • The Trouble Makers: Dissent over Foreign Policy, 1792–1939, 1957.
  • Lloyd George, 1961.
  • The Origins of the Second World War, 1961. Reissued by Fawcett Books in 1969 OCLC 263622959.
  • The First World War: an Illustrated History, 1963. OCLC 2054370 American edition has the title: Illustrated history of the First World War. OCLC 253080
  • Politics In Wartime, 1964.
  • English History 1914–1945 (Volume XV of the Oxford History of England), 1965. OCLC 36661639
  • From Sarajevo to Potsdam, 1966. 1st American edition, 1967. OCLC 1499372
  • From Napoleon to Lenin, 1966.
  • The Abdication of King Edward VIII by Lord Beaverbrook, (editor) 1966.
  • Europe: Grandeur and Decline, 1967.
  • Introduction to 1848: The Opening of an Era by F. Fejto, 1967.
  • War by Timetable, 1969. ISBN 0-356-02818-6
  • Churchill Revised: A Critical Assessment, 1969. OCLC 4194
  • (editor) Lloyd George: Twelve Essays, 1971.
  • (editor) Lloyd George: A Diary by Frances Steveson, 1971.
  • Beaverbrook, 1972. ISBN 0-671-21376-8
  • (editor) Off the Record: Political Interviews, 1933–43 by W. P. Corzier, 1973.
  • A History of World War Two: 1974.
  • "Fritz Fischer and His School," The Journal of Modern History Vol. 47, No. 1, March 1975
  • The Second World War: an Illustrated History, 1975.
  • (editor) My Darling Pussy: The Letters of Lloyd George and Frances Stevenson, 1975. ISBN 0-297-77017-9
  • The Last of Old Europe: a Grand Tour, 1976. Reissued in 1984. ISBN 0-283-99170-4 OCLC 80148134
  • Essays in English History, 1976. ISBN 0-14-021862-9
  • "Accident Prone, or What Happened Next," The Journal of Modern History Vol. 49, No. 1, March 1977
  • The War Lords, 1977.
  • The Russian War, 1978.
  • How Wars Begin, 1979. ISBN 0-689-10982-2 OCLC 5536093
  • Politicians, Socialism, and Historians, 1980.
  • Revolutions and Revolutionaries, 1980.
  • A Personal History, 1983.
  • An Old Man's Diary, 1984.
  • How Wars End, 1985.
  • Letters to Eva: 1969–1983, edited by Eva Haraszti Taylor, 1991.
  • From Napoleon to the Second International: Essays on Nineteenth-century Europe. Ed. 1993.
  • From the Boer War to the Cold War: Essays on Twentieth-century Europe. Ed. 1995. ISBN 0-241-13445-5
  • Struggles for Supremacy: Diplomatic Essays by A.J.P. Taylor. Edited by Chris Wigley. Ashgate, 2000. ISBN 1-84014-661-3 OCLC 42289691

See also



  1. ^ Overy, Richard (30 January 1994). "Riddle Radical Ridicule". The Observer.
  2. ^ Wrigley 2006
  3. ^ Staff (2011). Bootham School Register. York, England: Bootham Old Scholars Association (BOSA).
  4. ^ a b Thompson, A. F. (2004). "A. J. P. Taylor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biographies, Volume 53. Oxford University Press. pp. 858–59. ISBN 0-19-861403-9.
  5. ^ a b Burk 2000, p.41
  6. ^ Taylor, A. J. P. (1984). An Old Man's Diary. London: Hamish Hamilton. p. 101.
  7. ^ "Our History" University of Manchester website
  8. ^ Burk 2000
  9. ^ a b c Donnelly, James (Autumn 1993). "The Great Famine and its interpreters, old and new". History Ireland. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
  10. ^ a b c d e Burk 2001, p. 236.
  11. ^ Lukes 1996, p. 159.
  12. ^ a b Bernstein, Richard (September 8, 1990) "A.J.P. Taylor, British Historian, Dies" in The New York Times
  13. ^ Taylor, A. J. P. (1983) A Personal History. London: Hamish Hamilton. p.267
  14. ^ Addison, Paul (1993) "Introduction" to Taylor, A. J. P. The Troublemakers Pimlico. ISBN 0-7126-5922-6
  15. ^ a b Martel 1999, p.1
  16. ^ Taylor, A. J. P. (28 January 1951). "UNO Has Failed!". Sunday Pictorial.
  17. ^ Taylor, A. J. P. (27 October 1957). "Why Must We Soft-Soap The Germans?". Sunday Express.
  18. ^ Taylor, A. J. P. (15 July 1962). "Macmillan Has Not Found The Answer Yet". Sunday Express.
  19. ^ Taylor, A. J. P. (31 October 1962). "Why Don't These "Top People" Think For Themselves?". Sunday Express.
  20. ^ Taylor, A. J. P. (2 June 1968). "Will Germany Be The Next To Explode?". Sunday Express.
  21. ^ Taylor, A. J. P. (25 May 1969). "Why Not Tell Us Where You Stand Mr. Heath?". Sunday Express.
  22. ^ Taylor, A. J. P. (11 July 1971). "The Path To Ruin". Sunday Express.
  23. ^ Wrigley 2006, p.320
  24. ^ "Eighteenth Century Social Legislation/The Battle of Trafalgar". MontyPython.net. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  25. ^ Walker, Christopher (12 April 1976) "Protestant expulsion from Ulster by Irish nationalists would be the best solution, Mr A J P Taylor says", The Times p.2
  26. ^ Taylor, A. J. P. (1965). English History 1914–1945. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 29.
  27. ^ Burk 2001, p. 302.
  28. ^ The Press and the People. London: The Press Council. 1968. pp. 45–46.
  29. ^ "Press Writer's Freedom is Defended". Birmingham Daily Post. 11 December 1967. p. 31.
  30. ^ Burk 2000, p.292
  31. ^ https://mises.org/library/review-origins-second-world-war


  • Burk, Kathleen (2000). Troublemaker: The Life and History of A. J. P. Taylor. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
  • Martel, Gordon (editor) (1986, rev. 1999) The Origins Of The Second World War Reconsidered: A. J. P. Taylor and the Historians London; New York: Routledge.
  • Wrigley, Chris J. (2006) A. J. P. Taylor: Radical Historian of Europe. London: I. B. Tauris. (hardcover, ISBN 1-86064-286-1)OCLC 71295901.

Further reading

  • Bosworth, Robert Explaining Auschwitz and Hiroshima: History Writing and the Second World War, 1945–90, London: Routledge, 1993.
  • Boyer, John "A. J. P. Taylor and the Art of Modern History" pages 40–72 from Journal of Modern History, Volume 49, Issue 1, March 1977.
  • Cole, Robert A. J. P. Taylor: The Traitor Within The Gates London: Macmillan, 1993.
  • Cook, Chris and Sked, Alan (editors) Crisis and Controversy: Essays In Honour of A. J. P. Taylor, London: Macmillan Press, 1976
  • Dray, William, Concepts of Causation in A. J. P. Taylor's Account of the Origins of the Second World War pages 149–172 from History and Theory, Volume 17, Issue #1, 1978.
  • Gilbert, Martin (editor) A Century of Conflict, 1850–1950; Essays for A. J. P. Taylor, London, H. Hamilton 1966.
  • Hauser, Oswald "A. J. P. Taylor" pages 34–39 from Journal of Modern History, Volume 49, Issue #1, March 1977.
  • Hett, Benjamin C. "Goak Here: A. J. P. Taylor and the Origins of the Second World War" pages 257–280 from Canadian Journal of History, Volume 32, Issue #2, 1996.
  • Johnson, Paul "A. J. P. Taylor: A Saturnine Star Who Had Intellectuals Rolling In The Aisles" page 31 from The Spectator, Volume 300, Issue # 9266, 11 March 2006.
  • Johnson, R. W., Look Back in Laughter: Oxford's Golden Postwar Age, Threshold Press, 2015.
  • Kennedy, Paul "A. J. P. Taylor 'Profound Forces' in History" pages 9–13 from History Today, Volume 33, Issue #3, March 1986.
  • Kennedy, Paul "The Nonconformist" pages 109–114 from The Atlantic, Volume 287, Issue #4, April 2001.
  • Louis, William (editor) The Origins of the Second World War: A. J. P. Taylor And His Critics, New York: Wiley & Sons, 1972.
  • Mehta, Ved Fly and Fly Bottle: Encounters with British Intellectuals, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1962.
  • Pepper, F. S., Handbook of 20th century Quotations, Sphere Study Aids, 1984, passim.
  • Robertson, Esmonde (editor) The Origins of the Second World War: Historical Interpretations, London: Macmillan, 1971.
  • Sisman, Adam A. J. P. Taylor: A Biography London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994.
  • Smallwood, J. "A Historical Debate of the 1960s: World War II Historiography—The Origins of the Second World War, A. J. P. Taylor and his Critics" pages 403–410 from Australian Journal of Politics and History, Volume 26, Issue #3, 1980.
  • Watt, D.C. "Some Aspects of AJP Taylor's Work as Diplomatic Historian" pages 19–33 from Journal of Modern History, Volume 49, Issue #1, March 1977.
  • Williams, H. Russell "A. J. P. Taylor" from Historians of Modern Europe edited by Hans Schmitt, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Press, 1971.
  • Wrigley, Chris (editor) A. J. P. Taylor: A Complete Bibliography and Guide to his Historical and Other Writings, Brighton: Harvester, 1982.
  • Wrigley, Chris (editor) Warfare, Diplomacy and Politics: Essays In Honour Of A. J. P. Taylor, London: Hamilton, 1986.
  • Wrighley, Chris 'A. J. P. Taylor: a Nonconforming Radical Historian of Europe" pages 74–75 from Contemporary European History, Volume 3, 1994.
  • "Taylor, A(lan) J(ohn) P(ercivale)" pages 389–392 from Current Biography 1983 edited by Charles Moritz, H.W. Wilson Company, New York, US, 1983, 1984.
  • "A. J. P. Taylor" pages 564–570 from The Annual Obituary 1990 edited by Deborah Andrews, St. James Press, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, 1991.

External links

Alan Taylor

Alan Taylor may refer to:

Alan Taylor (Australian judge) (1901–1969), Australian High Court judge

A. J. P. Taylor (Alan John Percivale Taylor, 1906–1990), British historian

Alan Taylor (television presenter) (1924–1997), Welsh television presenter

Alan Taylor (British judge) (born 1939), British judge

Alan Taylor (footballer, born 1943), English football goalkeeper for Blackpool

Alan D. Taylor (born 1947), mathematician

Alan Taylor (volleyball), (born 1950), Canadian volleyball player

Alan Taylor (footballer, born 1953), English football player for West Ham United

Alan Taylor (historian) (born 1955), United States historian

Alan Taylor (director) (born 1959), American film director

Alan M. Taylor (born 1964), economist

Alan Taylor (racing driver) (born 1966), British racing driver

Benito Mussolini

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (Italian: [beˈniːto mussoˈliːni]; 29 July 1883 – 28 April 1945) was an Italian politician and journalist who was the leader of the National Fascist Party (Partito Nazionale Fascista, PNF). He ruled Italy as Prime Minister from 1922 to 1943; he constitutionally led the country until 1925, when he dropped the pretense of democracy and established a dictatorship.

Known as Il Duce ("The Leader"), Mussolini was the founder of Italian Fascism. In 1912, Mussolini had been a leading member of the National Directorate of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), but was expelled from the PSI for advocating military intervention in World War I, in opposition to the party's stance on neutrality. Mussolini served in the Royal Italian Army during the war until he was wounded and discharged in 1917. Mussolini denounced the PSI, his views now centering on nationalism instead of socialism and later founded the fascist movement which came to oppose egalitarianism and class conflict, instead advocating "revolutionary nationalism" transcending class lines. Following the March on Rome in October 1922, Mussolini became the youngest Prime Minister in Italian history until the appointment of Matteo Renzi in February 2014. After removing all political opposition through his secret police and outlawing labor strikes, Mussolini and his followers consolidated their power through a series of laws that transformed the nation into a one-party dictatorship. Within five years, Mussolini had established dictatorial authority by both legal and extraordinary means and aspired to create a totalitarian state. In 1929, Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with the Vatican, ending decades of struggle between the Italian state and the Papacy, and recognized the independence of Vatican City.

After the Abyssinia Crisis of 1935–1936, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in the Second Italo–Ethiopian War. The invasion was condemned by the Western powers and was answered with economic sanctions against Italy. Relations between Germany and Italy improved due to Hitler's support of the invasion. In 1936, Mussolini surrendered Austria to the German sphere of influence, signed the treaty of cooperation with Germany and proclaimed the creation of a Rome–Berlin Axis. From 1936 through 1939, Mussolini provided huge amounts of military support to Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War. This active intervention further distanced Italy from France and Britain. Mussolini had sought to delay a major war in Europe, but Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, resulting in declarations of war by France and the UK and the start of World War II. On 10 June 1940—with the Fall of France imminent—Italy officially entered the war on the side of Germany, though Mussolini was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity and resources to carry out a long war with the British Empire. He believed that after the imminent French armistice, Italy could gain territorial concessions from France, and he could then concentrate his forces on a major offensive in North Africa, where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces. However, the British government refused to accept proposals for a peace that would involve accepting Axis victories in Eastern and Western Europe; plans for an invasion of the UK did not proceed and the war continued. In October 1940, Mussolini sent Italian forces into Greece, starting the Greco-Italian War. The invasion failed and the following Greek counter-offensive pushed the Italians back to occupied Albania. The Greek debacle and simultaneous defeats against the British in North Africa reduced Italy to dependence on Germany.

Beginning in June 1941, Mussolini sent Italian forces to participate in the invasion of the Soviet Union, and Italy declared war on the United States in December. In 1943, Italy suffered one disaster after another: by February the Red Army had completely destroyed the Italian Army in Russia; in May the Axis collapsed in North Africa; on 9 July the Allies invaded Sicily; and by the 16th it became clear the German summer offensive in the USSR had failed. As a consequence, early on 25 July, the Grand Council of Fascism passed a motion of no confidence for Mussolini; later that day the King dismissed him as head of government and had him placed in custody, appointing Pietro Badoglio to succeed him as Prime Minister. After the king agreed the armistice with the allies, on 12 September 1943 Mussolini was rescued from captivity in the Gran Sasso raid by German paratroopers and Waffen-SS commandos led by Major Otto-Harald Mors.

Adolf Hitler, after meeting with the rescued former dictator, then put Mussolini in charge of a puppet regime in northern Italy, the Italian Social Republic (Italian: Repubblica Sociale Italiana, RSI), informally known as the Salò Republic. In late April 1945, in the wake of near total defeat, Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci attempted to flee to Switzerland, but both were captured by Italian communist partisans and summarily executed by firing squad on 28 April 1945 near Lake Como. His body was then taken to Milan, where it was hung upside down at a service station to publicly confirm his demise.

French indemnity

The French indemnity was the indemnity the French Third Republic paid to the German Empire after the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.

Gladstonian liberalism

Gladstonian liberalism is a political doctrine named after the British Victorian Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party, William Ewart Gladstone. Gladstonian liberalism consisted of limited government expenditure and low taxation whilst making sure government had balanced budgets and the classical liberal stress on self-help and freedom of choice. Gladstonian liberalism also emphasised free trade, little government intervention in the economy and equality of opportunity through institutional reform. It is referred to as laissez-faire or classical liberalism in the United Kingdom and is often compared to Thatcherism.Gladstonian financial rectitude had a partial lasting impact on British politics and the historian John Vincent contends that under Lord Salisbury's premiership he "left Britain's low tax, low cost, low growth economy, with its Gladstonian finance and its free trade dogmas, and no conscript army, exactly as he had found it...Salisbury reigned, but Gladstone ruled". However, in the early 20th-century the Liberal Party began to move away from Gladstonian liberalism and instead developed new policies based on social liberalism (or what Gladstone called "constructionism"). The Liberal government of 1906–1914 is noted for its social reforms and these included old age pensions and National Insurance. Taxation and public expenditure was also increased and New Liberal ideas led to David Lloyd George's People's Budget of 1909–1910.

The first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Snowden, had Gladstonian economic views. This was demonstrated in his first Budget in 1924 as government expenditure was curtailed, taxes were lowered and duties on tea, coffee, cocoa and sugar were reduced. Historian A. J. P. Taylor remarked that this budget "would have delighted the heart of Gladstone". Ernest Bevin remarked on becoming Minister of Labour in 1940: "They say that Gladstone was at the Treasury from 1860 to 1930".

Hamish Hamilton

Hamish Hamilton Limited was a British book publishing house, founded in 1931 eponymously by the half-Scot half-American Jamie Hamilton (Hamish is the vocative form of the Gaelic Seumas [meaning James], James the English form – which was also his given name, and Jamie the diminutive form). Jamie Hamilton was often referred to as Hamish Hamilton.

Hamish Hamilton Limited originally specialized in fiction, and was responsible for publishing a number of American authors in the United Kingdom, including Raymond Chandler, James Thurber, J.D. Salinger, E. B. White, and Truman Capote.

In 1939 Hamish Hamilton Law and Hamish Hamilton Medical were started but closed during the war. Hamish Hamilton was established in the literary district of Bloomsbury and went on to publish a large number of promising British and American authors, a large number of whom were personal friends and acquaintances of Jamie Hamilton.

During the late 1940s Hamish Hamilton Limited published authors including D. W. Brogan, Albert Camus, L. P. Hartley, Nancy Mitford, Alan Moorehead, Terence Rattigan, Jean-Paul Sartre, Georges Simenon and A. J. P. Taylor.

Jamie Hamilton sold the firm to the Thomson Organisation in 1965, who resold it to Penguin Books in 1986. In 2013, Penguin merged with Random House, making Hamish Hamilton an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Hamish Hamilton’s aim remains to publish innovative literary fiction and non-fiction from around the world. Authors include: Alain de Botton, Esther Freud, Toby Litt, Redmond O'Hanlon, W. G. Sebald, Zadie Smith, William Sutcliffe, R. K. Narayan, Paul Theroux and John Updike.

Hamish Hamilton also publishes an online literary magazine called Five Dials.

Lewis Namier

Sir Lewis Bernstein Namier (; 27 June 1888 – 19 August 1960) was a British historian of Polish-Jewish background. 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 later in his life with John Brooke.

My Life (Oswald Mosley autobiography)

My Life is the autobiography of the British Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley. It was published in 1968.

Nazi foreign policy debate

The foreign policy and war aims of the Nazis have been the subject of debate among historians. The Nazis governed Germany between 1933 and 1945. There has been disagreement over whether Adolf Hitler aimed solely at European expansion and domination, or whether he planned for a long-term global empire.

Paul Kennedy

Paul Michael Kennedy (born 17 June 1945) is a British historian specialising in the history of international relations, economic power and grand strategy. He has published prominent books on the history of British foreign policy and Great Power struggles. He emphasises the changing economic power base that undergirds military and naval strength, noting how declining economic power leads to reduced military and diplomatic weight.

Personality clash

A personality clash occurs when two (or more) people find themselves in conflict not over a particular issue or incident, but due to a fundamental incompatibility in their personalities, their approaches to things, or their style of life.A personality clash may occur in work-related, family-related, or social situations.

State socialism

State socialism is a classification for any socialist political and economic perspective advocating state ownership of the means of production either as a temporary measure in the transition from capitalism to socialism, or as characteristic of socialism itself. It is often used interchangeably with state capitalism in reference to the economic systems of Marxist–Leninist states such as the Soviet Union to highlight the role of state planning in these economies, with the critics of said system referring to it more commonly as "state capitalism". Libertarian and democratic socialists claim that these states had only a limited number of socialist characteristics. However, Marxist–Leninists maintain that workers in the Soviet Union and other Marxist–Leninist states had genuine control over the means of production through institutions such as trade unions.State socialism is held in contrast with libertarian socialism, which rejects the view that socialism can be constructed by using existing state institutions or by governmental policies. By contrast, proponents of state socialism claim that the state—through practical considerations of governing—must play at least a temporary part in building socialism. It is possible to conceive of a democratic state that owns the means of production, but it is internally organized in a participatory, cooperative fashion, thereby achieving both social ownership of productive property and workplace democracy in day-to-day operations.

The Course of German History

The Course of German History is a non-fiction book by the English historian A. J. P. Taylor. It was first published in the United Kingdom by Hamish Hamilton in July 1945.

The Life and Times of David Lloyd George

The Life and Times of David Lloyd George is a BBC Wales drama serial broadcast in 1981 on the BBC1 network and which stars Philip Madoc, Lisabeth Miles, Kika Markham and David Markham.

It featured music by Ennio Morricone, including the theme music ("Chi Mai"), which was a surprise hit in the UK charts, reaching number 2. The opening titles showed an elderly David Lloyd George walking through the Welsh countryside near Criccieth remembering his Uncle Lloyd baptising the young David George (later Lloyd George) in a mountain stream.

The series is in 9 hourly parts covering most of the major events of Lloyd George's life from his birth in Manchester in January 1863 until his death in 1945 in Llanystumdwy. The major events of Lloyd George's life are covered in the production including his personal life, specifically the running of two families. The duration of Lloyd George's political career, of over 54 years, combined with the length of the series means that certain periods of history have been skirted over. This is particularly the case with the various Liberal Party splits from 1918 onwards. The historical consultant for the series was the historian A. J. P. Taylor.

The Origins of the Second World War

The Origins of the Second World War is a non-fiction book by the English historian A. J. P. Taylor, examining the causes of World War II. It was first published in 1961 by Hamish Hamilton.

The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848–1918

The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848–1918 is a scholarly history book by the English historian A. J. P. Taylor. It was part of "The Oxford History of Modern Europe" published by the Clarendon Press in Oxford in October 1954.

Union of Democratic Control

The Union of Democratic Control was a British pressure group formed in 1914 to press for a more responsive foreign policy. While not a pacifist organisation, it was opposed to military influence in government.

White Eagle, Red Star

White Eagle, Red Star: The Polish–Soviet War, 1919–20 is a 1972 book by Norman Davies covering the Polish–Soviet War. This monograph is Davies' first book.

It is considered by many historians to be one of the best English-language books on the subject. A. J. P. Taylor, who wrote the foreword to it, also wrote: "Norman Davies's book is a permanent contribution to historical knowledge and international understanding."

Zinoviev letter

The Zinoviev letter was a document published by the British Daily Mail newspaper four days before the general election in 1924. A forgery, it purported to be a directive from Grigory Zinoviev, the head of the Communist International (Comintern) in Moscow, to the Communist Party of Great Britain, ordering it to engage in seditious activities. It said the resumption of diplomatic relations (by a Labour government) would hasten the radicalisation of the British working class. This would have constituted a significant interference in British politics, and as a result it was deeply offensive to British voters, turning them against the Labour Party. The letter seemed authentic at the time, but most historians now agree it was a forgery. The letter aided the Conservative Party, by hastening the collapse of the Liberal Party vote that produced a Conservative landslide. A. J. P. Taylor argued that the most important impact was on the psychology of Labourites, who for years afterward blamed their defeat on foul play, thereby misunderstanding the political forces at work and postponing necessary reforms in the Labour Party.

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