A Personal Appreciation
I first met John Kenyon in December 1961 when he interviewed me during 'Scholarship Entrance' for a place to read History at Christ's College, Cambridge. All I can remember of that occasion, apart from the terror of being inside a doll's room for the first time, was the interviewer's penetrating sidelong gaze, delivered from a huge red chair surrounded by piles of exam papers. John left nine months later to become head of the History Department at Hull (a remarkable accolade for a man of 35), just as I came up to Christ's and so he never taught me. For the next twenty years I saw him only when he came to give a lecture to the Seeley Society or to dine at High Table and 'combine' in The Room.
All that changed in 1981 when he moved to the university of St Andrews (where I had taught since 1972) and became my Head of Department. Not only was I the only historian he knew there; for his first term, while Angela Kenyon sold their home in Hull and I was waiting to move into a new house, we both lived on the same floor of Dean's Court, a university residence for graduate students and faculty. For the next five years, until I left St Andrews, I saw 'JPK' (as his colleagues always called him) almost daily, and grew to admire greatly his historical and his administrative skills. By the time he came to St Andrews he had of course perfected both: his first book, Sunderland, came out in 1958 and half-a-dozen more seminal works had appeared since then; he had also been a professor and department head for eighteen years. Nevertheless the speed with which John took stock of both the department and the university impressed all his colleagues (no mean feat, since John's predecessor was Norman Gash, another prolific scholar and experienced administrator). Time after time, although apparently acting on the spur of the moment, he displayed an uncanny ability to anticipate both his colleagues' reaction and the solution to each problem.
On meeting JPK, one first noticed the style: authoritative, clear, and concise. John never used two words when one would serve, and he showed a keen interest in how others used language. Once, when I mentioned having received a letter
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Publication information: Book title: The Civil Wars:A Military History of England, Scotland, and Ireland 1638-1660. Contributors: John Kenyon - Editor, Jane Ohlmeyer - Editor, John Morrill - AssociateEditor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1998. Page number: xiii.
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