Famous British Historians

Find out more about the greatest British Historians, including David Hume, Terry Jones, Lisa Jardine, Simon Schama and Edward Gibbon.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite British Historians

 1 

Terry Jones
6
Birthdate: February 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Wales
Died: January 21, 2020
Starting his career as a comedy writer, actor-director Terry Jones later soared to fame as part of the Monty Python comedy team. An avid historian, too, he wrote several books and presented TV documentaries on the topic. In his later years, the BAFTA Cymru award winner struggled with dementia. 

 2 
Lucy Worsley
(Historian)

Lucy Worsley
4
Birthdate: December 18, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Reading, Berkshire, England, UK

British historian and author Lucy Worsley is not just a curator at the charity Historic Royal Palaces, but is also a famed TV presenter, popular for her work on series such as A Very British Murder and If Walls Could Talk. Suffering from a speech disorder, she pronounces “r” in a peculiar way.

 3 
Anthony Blunt
(Art Historian, University Teacher)

Anthony Blunt
4
Birthdate: September 26, 1907
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bournemouth, Hampshire, England
Died: March 26, 1983
Art historian Anthony Blunt is best remembered as part of the spy group Cambridge Five. His confession, revealed after years, stripped him of his knighthood. An expert on the works of Baroque painter Nicolas Poussin, he had also authored works such as Art and Architecture in France 1500–1700.
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 4 
Edward Gibbon
(Historian)

Edward Gibbon
5
Birthdate: April 8, 1737
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 16, 1794

Eighteenth-century historian and author Edward Gibbon is best remembered for his 6-volume historical work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a narrative that charted events from the 2nd century to the Fall of Constantinople. He had also been an MP, representing Lymington and Liskeard.

 5 

Arnold J. Toynbee
8
Birthdate: April 14, 1889
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England, United Kingdom
Died: October 22, 1975

 6 

Suzannah Lipscomb
4
Birthdate: December 7, 1978
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Barnes, London, United Kingdom

Apart from being a historian and an award-winning professor, Suzannah Lipscomb is also a popular author and broadcaster. Known for presenting documentary series such as Walking Tudor England and Witch Hunt: A Century of Murder, she also pens columns for History Today and other publications and is a public speaker, too.

 7 
Ian Kershaw
(Best Known for His Non-fiction Work About Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Regim)

Ian Kershaw
4
Birthdate: April 29, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Oldham, England, United Kingdom
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 8 
Cherie Blair
(Barrister)

Cherie Blair
6
Birthdate: September 23, 1954
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bury, England

Apart from being the wife of former UK prime minister Tony Blair, Cherie Blair is also a successful attorney in her own right. The daughter of actor Tony Booth, she is has also taught at the University of Westminster. She is associated with charitable campaigns on breast cancer and other causes, too.

 9 
Geoffrey of Monmouth
(British cleric)

Geoffrey of Monmouth
4
Birthdate: 1095 AD
Birthplace: Monmouth, Wales
Died: 1155 AD

English bishop and chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth is best remembered for his iconic work Historia regum Britanniae, which introduced the character King Arthur in literature. His Latin poem Vita Merlini, written in hexameters, is based on the Celtic legend of Merlin. A lot of his so-called historical treatises seem to be fabricated.

 10 
E. P. Thompson
(Historian)

E. P. Thompson
3
Birthdate: February 3, 1924
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oxford, England
Died: August 28, 1993

British historian E. P. Thompson is best remembered for his iconic works such as The Making of the English Working Class. He was also a poet, a novelist, and a biographer. An anti-nuclear activist, too, he played a significant role in the formation of the New Left.  

 11 
Bettany Hughes
(Historian)

Bettany Hughes
4
Birthdate: February 3, 1924, 1967
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England

The daughter of English actor Peter Hughes, art historian Bettany Hughes is also a popular TV personality and an author. Best known for presenting and writing documentaries and shows such as Ancient Discoveries and The Spartans, she also supports The Iris Project, which promotes Latin and Greek languages.

 12 
E. H. Carr
(Historian, Journalist, Diplomat, Writer, Political scientist, Professor)

E. H. Carr
4
Birthdate: June 28, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London
Died: November 3, 1982

Best known for his 14-volume book A History of Soviet Russia, British historian and diplomat E. H. Carr had been part of the Foreign Office for a long time, before stepping into the academic world. He had also been an assistant editor of The Times and a fellow of both Oxford and Cambridge.

 13 

Simon Russell Beale
4
Birthdate: January 12, 1961
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Penang, Malaysia

Born to doctor parents, Simon Russell Beale chose to study music and drama instead of following in his parents’ footsteps. A Guildhall alumnus, he gained fame performing for the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he collaborated with Sam Mendes. The Tony Award-winning actor has also been knighted for his achievements.

 14 

Dan Jones
4
Birthdate: July 27, 1981
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Reading, England

Award-winning historian and author Dan Jones is best known for his New York Times bestsellers such as The Plantagenets and The Wars of the Roses. An expert in the history of the Middle Ages, he also writes a sports column for the London Evening Standard. He has also presented many documentaries.

 15 

Thomas Babington Macaulay
4
Birthdate: October 25, 1800
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Leicestershire, England
Died: December 28, 1859

A prominent Whig and essayist Thomas Babington Macaulay is best remembered for his 5-volume History of England. Though a qualified lawyer, he never took it up as a career. As part of his administrative work in India later, he introduced English as the chief medium of instruction in schools.

 16 
Richard J. Evans
(Historian, University teacher, Non-fiction writer)

Richard J. Evans
5
Birthdate: September 29, 1947
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Woodford Green

 17 
Robert Fisk
(Journalist, Historian, Writer, War correspondent)

Robert Fisk
4
Birthdate: July 12, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Maidstone

British journalist Robert Fisk, who specialized in Middle-Eastern politics, has worked for renowned publications such as The Times and The Independent. In the 1990s, he became one of the few Western journalists to interview Osama bin Laden. He is also a bestselling author of books such as The Point of No Return.

 18 
David Starkey
(Historian, Radio personality, Writer)

David Starkey
8
Birthdate: January 3, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kendal

 19 
Kenneth Clark
(Art Historian)

Kenneth Clark
4
Birthdate: July 13, 1903
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mayfair, London, England
Died: May 21, 1983

 20 
Nikolai Tolstoy
(Historian, Non-fiction writer)

Nikolai Tolstoy
4
Birthdate: June 23, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London

 21 
Bernard Lewis
(Historian)

Bernard Lewis
4
Birthdate: May 31, 1916
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: May 19, 2018

 22 
Emma Georgina Rothschild
(Economic historian, Historian, University teacher, Economist)

Emma Georgina Rothschild
4
Birthdate: May 16, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London

Apart from being one of the heiresses of the affluent Rothschild banking family, Emma Georgina Rothschild is also a famous economic historian, a Harvard professor, and a former United Nations Foundation board member. She has also worked at MIT and Cambridge and is married to Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen.

 23 

Alan John Percival Taylor
4
Birthdate: March 25, 1906
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Southport, England
Died: September 7, 1990

 24 
Jonathan Sumption
(Judge of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom)

Jonathan Sumption
5
Birthdate: December 9, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: United Kingdom

Jonathan Sumption is a British medieval historian, author, and former senior judge. Between 2012 and 2018, Sumption served as a judge of the United Kingdom's Supreme Court. A former barrister, Jonathan Sumption is well known for his involvement in several legal cases, including the Three Rivers case. 

 25 
Michael Wood
(historian)

Michael Wood
4
Birthdate: July 23, 1948
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Moss Side

 26 
Max Hastings
(Journalist, Military historian, Writer)

Max Hastings
4
Birthdate: December 28, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lambeth

 27 

Ambrosius Aurelianus
4
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: England

 28 
Antony Beevor
(Military historian, Novelist, Historian, Non-fiction writer, Author, Writer)

Antony Beevor
4
Birthdate: December 14, 1946
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: England

 29 
John Julius Norwich
(Television presenter, Politician, Historian, Diplomat, Writer)

John Julius Norwich
4
Birthdate: September 15, 1929
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oldham

Born to a popular politician father and a socialite mother, John Julius Norwich was educated at Eton and later served the navy. A diplomat, historian, and traveler, he is known for his books such as Absolute Monarchs and for hosting documentaries such as Maestro and the BBC radio show My Word!

 30 
Robert Conquest
(Historian, Researcher, Writer, Science fiction writer)

Robert Conquest
3
Birthdate: July 15, 1917
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Malvern
Died: August 3, 2015

Robert Conquest was a British poet and historian whose works earned him the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. In his illustrious career Conquest also won other prominent awards like Richard Weaver Award for Scholarly Letters, Michael Braude Award for Light Verse, Dan David Prize, and the Antonovych prize.

 31 
Steven Runciman
(Historian)

Steven Runciman
3
Birthdate: July 7, 1903
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Northumberland, England
Died: November 1, 2000

 32 
James George Frazer
(Anthropologist, Writer, Historian, Mythographer)

James George Frazer
3
Birthdate: January 1, 1854
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: May 7, 1941
British anthropologist James George Frazer is best known for his book The Golden Bough, which details his study of ancient cults and myths. He also taught social anthropology at Cambridge. He was also knighted for his achievements and was also made a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 33 
Niall Ferguson
(Writer, Economic historian, Historian, University teacher, Journalist, Economist)

Niall Ferguson
5
Birthdate: April 18, 1964
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Glasgow

Harvard professor and Stanford senior fellow Niall Ferguson is a Scottish historian who has penned countless books, such as The Pity of War and The House of Rothschild. Named to Time 100 in 2004, he also created an Emmy-winning series, The Ascent of Money and wrote for Bloomberg.

 34 
Paul Johnson
(Journalist & Conservative Popular Historian)

Paul Johnson
4
Birthdate: November 2, 1928
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Manchester, England

 35 

B. H. Liddell Hart
3
Birthdate: October 31, 1895
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 29, 1970

Also known as Captain B. H., soldier and historian B. H. Liddell Hart is best remembered for his research on military theory and his book Strategy. He was against frontal attack as a war strategy. He had also been part of the Battle of the Somme and was later knighted.

 36 
Tony Judt
(Historian, Professor, Non-fiction writer)

Tony Judt
3
Birthdate: January 2, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London
Died: August 6, 2010

 37 
Gitta Sereny
(Biographer and Investigative Journalist Known for Her Interviews and Profiles of Infamous Figures, Including 'Mary Bell')

Gitta Sereny
3
Birthdate: March 13, 1921
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: June 14, 2012

Known for her persistent researches on some of history’s most reviled characters, Gitta Sereny was an investigative journalist and author of five biographical works that attempted to make sense of their crimes. Notable among her works are Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth and The Case of Mary Bell: A Portrait of a Child Who Murdered.  

 38 
R. G. Collingwood
(Philosopher)

R. G. Collingwood
3
Birthdate: February 22, 1889
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cartmel Fell, England
Died: January 9, 1943

 39 
Leszek Kołakowski
(Philosopher)

Leszek Kołakowski
3
Birthdate: October 23, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Radom, Poland
Died: July 17, 2009

Leszek Kołakowski was a Polish philosopher. He is remembered for his critical analyses of Marxist thought, which he published in his three-volume history, Main Currents of Marxism. He was exiled from Poland in 1968 due to his criticism of Marxism. Despite this, he was a major inspiration for the Solidarity movement in Poland in the 1980s.

 40 
Thomas Hutchinson
(Businessman)

Thomas Hutchinson
3
Birthdate: September 9, 1711
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: British America
Died: June 3, 1780

 41 
Geoffrey Elton
(Writer, Historian of the modern age, Historian, University teacher, Lawyer)

Geoffrey Elton
3
Birthdate: August 17, 1921
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tübingen
Died: December 3, 1994

Born to Jewish scholars in Germany, Geoffrey Elton later moved with his family, first to Czechoslovakia and then to Britain. He grew up to become a renowned historian who specialized in the Tudor period. He also taught history at Cambridge and penned books such as England Under the Tudors.

 42 
Simon Schama
(Art historian, Historian, University teacher, Screenwriter, Writer)

Simon Schama
6
Birthdate: February 13, 1945
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London

 43 
Gavin Menzies
(Explorer, Submariner, Historian, Writer)

Gavin Menzies
3
Birthdate: August 14, 1937
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London

 44 
Joseph Needham
(historian, biochemist, writer)

Joseph Needham
3
Birthdate: December 9, 1900
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London
Died: March 24, 1995

 45 

Vasily Nikitich Mitrokhin
3
Birthdate: March 3, 1922
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ryazan Oblast, Russia
Died: January 23, 2004

Best known as the coauthor of a collection of works, entitled Mitrokhin Archives, Vasily Nikitich Mitrokhin was the First Chief Directorate of the KGB before his defection to the United Kingdom. The 25,000 pages of files he had handed over became the basis of these books, the most significant of them being The KGB in Europe and the West.

 46 
Zygmunt Bauman
(Sociologist)

Zygmunt Bauman
4
Birthdate: November 19, 1925
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Poznań, Poland
Died: January 9, 2017

Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman moved to Israel after being stripped of his Polish citizenship during the 1968 Polish political crisis. His best-known works include Modernity and the Holocaust and Liquid Modernity. He had taught at Tel Aviv and Haifa, before working for almost 2 decades at the University of Leeds.

 47 
Andrew Roberts
(historian, journalist, biographer)

Andrew Roberts
4
Birthdate: January 13, 1963
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London

 48 

Simon Sebag Montefiore
4
Birthdate: June 27, 1965
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England

The author of bestselling non-fiction books such as The Romanovs and Young Stalin, Simon Sebag Montefiore had had his books translated in 48 languages. He has also penned novels such as Red Sky at Noon and a couple of children’s books. The historian has previously been a banker and a journalist.

 49 
Lord Acton
(Historian, Member of Parliament for Bridgnorth (1865-66))

Lord Acton
4
Birthdate: January 10, 1834
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Naples, Italy
Died: June 19, 1902

Lord Acton was an English Catholic historian, writer, and politician. Born to a prominent family in Naples, he was the son of a British baronet. He studied at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where he developed a deep love of historical research. After building a career as a historian and writer, he ventured into politics as well. 

 50 
G. M. Trevelyan
(Historian)

G. M. Trevelyan
3
Birthdate: February 16, 1876
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Warwickshire, England
Died: July 21, 1962