John H. Plumb

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Sir John "Jack" Harold Plumb FBA (born August 20, 1911 in Leicester , England ; † October 21, 2001 in Cambridge , Cambridgeshire , England) was a British historian and author who wrote numerous specialist books, in particular on the history of Great Britain .


After visiting the Alderman Newton's Grammar School he studied at the University College Leicester and then at Christ's College of the University of Cambridge . After completing his studies, he was from 1939 to 1946 a scholar ( Scholar ) at King's College, University of Cambridge. During the time of the Second World War he worked as a codebreaker (code breaker ) in Bletchley Park , the military service that successfully dealt with the deciphering of German military communications. After the war, in 1946, he returned Lecturer at Christ's College and remained there until 1966. During this time he was in 1961 and trustee ( Trustee ) of the National Portrait Gallery in London and held this position until 1982 from.

In 1966 he accepted a professorship for modern history at Christ's College and taught there until his retirement in 1973. In 1978, he succeeded Alexander Robertus Todd as Rector ( Masters ) of Christ's College and held this position until his replacement Hans Leo Kornberg in 1982.

After he had already become a member ( Fellow ) of the British Academy in 1968 and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1970 , he was raised to the personal nobility status in 1982 as a Knight Bachelor , so that from then on he carried the suffix "Sir". In addition, he was appointed by Leonard Wolfson, Baron Wolfson, to serve on the board of trustees of the Wolfson Foundation , which he founded.


In addition to his decades of teaching, Plumb has published numerous specialist books that deal in particular with the history of Great Britain and with politicians such as Robert Walpole and British monarchs such as George I , George II , George III. , Georg IV. And Elisabeth II. And some of them were also translated into German . His most famous publications included:

  • England in the Eighteenth Century (1950)
  • West African Explorers (1951, co-author C. Howard)
  • Chatham (1953)
  • Studies In Social History (1955)
  • The First Four Georges (1956)
  • Sir Robert Walpole (1956–60, 2 volumes)
  • The Renaissance (1961, German title Das große Knaur-Buch der Renaissance , 1962)
  • Men And Places (1963)
  • The Growth of Political Stability in England 1675-1725 (1967)
  • The Death of the Past (1969, German title The Future of History: Past Without Mythos , 1971)
  • In The Light of History (1972)
  • The Commercialization of Leisure (1974)
  • Royal Heritage: The Treasures of the British Crown (1977, co-author Huw Wheldon)
  • Royal Heritage: The Story of Britain's Royal Builders and Collectors (1977, co-author Huw Wheldon)
  • New Light on the Tyrant George III (1978)
  • Georgian Delights (1980)
  • Royal Heritage: The Reign of Elizabeth II (1980)
  • The Birth of a Consumer Society: The Commercialization of Eighteenth-Century England (1982, co-authors Neil McKendrick and John Brewer)
  • The Making of a Historian (1988, essays )
  • The American Experience (1989, essays)


  • Neil McKendrick: Sir John Plumb. The hidden life of a great historian , Brighton: Edward Everett Root Publishers 2019, ISBN 978-1-911454-83-0 .
  • David Cannadine: John Harold Plumb, 1911-2001 . In: Proceedings of the British Academy . tape 124 , 2004, pp. 269-309 ( [PDF]).

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