G. M. Trevelyan

G. M. Trevelyan

G. M. Trevelyan

G. M. Trevelyan

Excerpt

GEORGE MACAULAY TREVELYAN is the heir of a great tradition. His great-uncle was Lord Macaulay who, with Gibbon, is the chief glory of English historical writing; his father, Sir George Otto Trevelyan, was also a historian of great distinction, a most important figure in the development of Anglo-American understanding; for his great work on the American Revolution did much to dispel ancient prejudice. With this inheritance it is not surprising that G. M. Trevelyan has a high sense of the duty of a historian. For him the writing of history, like the writing of poetry, is but a part of English culture, a culture not limited to the few but available to all men so that it might deepen their understanding. History, then, for him, has a literary and moral purpose. His inheritance made this attitude clear enough to himself but it required an obstinate courage to maintain it, for the view was no longer fashionable amongst academic historians. They preferred to treat history as a science; to concentrate on evidence, techniques, statistics, and if the public found the results unreadable that did not matter, for history was a specialized study by professionals for professionals. In the face of such opposition Trevelyan had to define, and defend, his attitude, and this he did in his volumes of essays, Clio: a Muse (1913), and An Autobiography and other Essays (1949). For anyone wishing to study the whole of Trevelyan's works, these books should come first and be followed by the Memoir of his father (1932), the book on Meredith (1912) the Life of Grey of Fallodon (1937), and the delightful little history of Trinity College (1943), for these make clear his personal inheritance, the background of tradition which fed that rare poetic imagination, perhaps his greatest gift.

In his Autobiography , written in the evening of his life, he writes:

More generally, I take delight in history, even its most . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.