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 H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells
5
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 21, 1866
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bromley, Kent, England
Died: August 13, 1946

H. G. Wells was an English writer. Although he was prolific in many genres, he is best remembered for his work on sci-fi novels, for which he is often referred to as the father of science fiction. His 1901 novel The First Men in the Moon became so influential that a lunar impact crater is named after him.

 2 Terry Jones

Terry Jones
6
Famous As: Actor
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. 

 3 Anthony Blunt

Anthony Blunt
4
Famous As: Art Historian, University Teacher
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 Lucy Worsley

Lucy Worsley
4
Famous As: Historian
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.

 5 Edward Gibbon

Edward Gibbon
5
Famous As: Historian
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.

 6 Arnold J. Toynbee

Arnold J. Toynbee
5
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: April 14, 1889
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England, United Kingdom
Died: October 22, 1975

 7 Suzannah Lipscomb

Suzannah Lipscomb
4
Famous As: historian
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.

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 8 Gregg Wallace

Gregg Wallace
4
Famous As: TV Presenters
Birthdate: October 17, 1964
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Peckham, London, England, UK

Celebrity chef Gregg Wallace is now better known as a MasterChef judge. Interestingly, he had begun his career as a greengrocer in Covert Garden and had then launched George Allan's Greengrocers. Wallace met his wife on Twitter, when she asked him a cooking-related question. He also owns a fitness brand.

 9 Geoffrey of Monmouth

Geoffrey of Monmouth
4
Famous As: British cleric
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 Stamford Raffles

Stamford Raffles
4
Famous As: Former Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies
Birthdate: July 6, 1781
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Port Morant, Jamaica
Died: July 5, 1826

Stamford Raffles was a British statesman who served as the Lieutenant-Governor of the Dutch East Indies from 1811 to 1816. From 1818 to 1824, he served as the Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen. Raffles is best remembered for founding the Straits Settlements and modern Singapore. He also played a major role in the invasion of Java in 1811 during the Napoleonic Wars.

 11 David Irving

David Irving
12
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 24, 1938
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hutton, Brentwood, England

David Irving is an English Holocaust denier and author whose works pertaining to the political and military history of World War II have depicted Adolf Hitler in a favorable light. Due to his stance on Hitler, Irving's reputation as a historian has been discredited. He has also been accused of deliberately manipulating historical evidence.

 12 Cherie Blair

Cherie Blair
6
Famous As: Barrister
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.

 13 Bettany Hughes

Bettany Hughes
4
Famous As: historian
Birthdate: 1968 AD
Birthplace: London

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.

 14 Ian Kershaw

Ian Kershaw
4
Famous As: Contemporary historian, University teacher, Writer, Historian
Birthdate: April 29, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Oldham

 15 E. P. Thompson

E. P. Thompson
3
Famous As: Historian
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.  

 16 Thomas Babington Macaulay

Thomas Babington Macaulay
4
Famous As: Historian
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.

 17 Richard J. Evans

Richard J. Evans
5
Famous As: Historian, University teacher, Non-fiction writer
Birthdate: September 29, 1947
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Woodford Green

 18 Zygmunt Bauman

Zygmunt Bauman
4
Famous As: Sociologist
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.

 19 E. H. Carr

E. H. Carr
4
Famous As: Historian, Journalist, Diplomat, Writer, Political scientist, Professor
Birthdate: June 28, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London
Died: November 3, 1982

 20 N. T. Wright

N. T. Wright
4
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: December 1, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Morpeth, Northumberland, England

N. T. Wright is an English New Testament scholar. Also a Pauline theologian and Anglican bishop, he served as the bishop of Durham from 2003 to 2010. He calls for a biblical re-evaluation of theological matters and has authored several books and seminars about theology and Christian life. He is highly regarded in academic and theological circles. 

 21 Len Deighton

Len Deighton
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 18, 1929
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Marylebone, London, England

Len Deighton is an author whose works have inspired several movies and TV shows. Many of his novels, such as Funeral in Berlin, The Ipcress File, Spy Story, and Billion Dollar Brain, have been adapted into films. His works have influenced other popular personalities like Aung San Suu Kyi. Anthony Burgess mentioned Deighton's novel Bomber in his work Ninety-nine Novels.

 22 David Starkey

David Starkey
6
Famous As: Historian, Radio personality, Writer
Birthdate: January 3, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kendal

 23 Hugh Trevor-Roper

Hugh Trevor-Roper
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: January 15, 1914
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glanton, England
Died: January 26, 2003

 24 Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk
4
Famous As: Journalist, Historian, Writer, War correspondent
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.

 25 Dan Jones

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.

 26 Max Hastings

Max Hastings
4
Famous As: Journalist, Military historian, Writer
Birthdate: December 28, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lambeth

 27 Jonathan Sumption

Jonathan Sumption
4
Famous As: Judge of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
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. 

 28 Karl Pearson

Karl Pearson
4
Famous As: Mathematician, Historian of mathematics, Statistician, Historian, Philosopher, Biographer
Birthdate: March 27, 1857
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London
Died: April 27, 1936

One of the greatest statisticians of all time, Karl Pearson established the first university-level statistics department at UCL and also launched the statistics-oriented journal Biometrika. He was also well-versed in law and believed in eugenics. His The Grammar of Science later inspired Albert Einstein and other scientists.

 29 Harriet Martineau

Harriet Martineau
4
Famous As: Linguist, Journalist, Economist, Historian, Translator, Writer, Sociologist, Essayist, Feminist
Birthdate: June 12, 1802
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Norwich
Died: June 27, 1876

Regarded by many as the first female sociologist, Harriet Martineau was a prominent 19th-century social theorist, classical economist, and intellectual who penned the iconic work The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte. She was partially deaf and had lost her sense of taste and smell in childhood.

 30 Bernard Lewis

Bernard Lewis
4
Famous As: Historian, University teacher
Birthdate: May 31, 1916
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London

 31 Alan John Percival Taylor

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

 32 Emma Georgina Rothschild

Emma Georgina Rothschild
4
Famous As: Economic historian, Historian, University teacher, Economist
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.

 33 Kenneth Clark

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

 34 David Owen

David Owen
4
Famous As: politician, physician
Birthdate: July 2, 1938
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Plympton

 35 Michael Wood

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

 36 Antony Beevor

Antony Beevor
4
Famous As: Military historian, Novelist, Historian, Non-fiction writer, Author, Writer
Birthdate: December 14, 1946
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: England

 37 Ambrosius Aurelianus

Ambrosius Aurelianus
4
Famous As: Leader
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: England

 38 Antonia Fraser

Antonia Fraser
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 27, 1932
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England

Known for her biographies of historical personalities, Antonia Fraser is the widow of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter. She is also known as Lady Antonia, for being born to an earl. Her book Marie Antoinette: The Journey was made into a film by Sofia Coppola. She has been made a DBE.

 39 Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson
4
Famous As: Writer, Economic historian, Historian, University teacher, Journalist, Economist
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.

 40 B. H. Liddell Hart

B. H. Liddell Hart
3
Famous As: Soldier
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.

 41 James George Frazer

James George Frazer
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, Writer, Historian, Mythographer
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.

 42 Nikolai Tolstoy

Nikolai Tolstoy
4
Famous As: Historian, Non-fiction writer
Birthdate: June 23, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London

 43 John Julius Norwich

John Julius Norwich
4
Famous As: Television presenter, Politician, Historian, Diplomat, Writer
Birthdate: September 15, 1929
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oldham

 44 Steven Runciman

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

 45 Robert Conquest

Robert Conquest
3
Famous As: Historian, Researcher, Writer, Science fiction writer
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.

 46 Simon Russell Beale

Simon Russell Beale
4
Famous As: Actor
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.

 47 Tony Judt

Tony Judt
3
Famous As: Historian, Professor, Non-fiction writer
Birthdate: January 2, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London
Died: August 6, 2010

 48 Geoffrey Elton

Geoffrey Elton
3
Famous As: Writer, Historian of the modern age, Historian, University teacher, Lawyer
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.

 49 R. G. Collingwood

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

 50 Thomas Hutchinson

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