Cowling, Maurice 1926–2005
Cowling, Maurice 1926–2005
(Maurice John Cowling)
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born September 6, 1926, in London, England; died August 24, 2005, in Swansea, England. Journalist, historian, educator, and author. Cowling was an influential Cambridge history professor whose sometimes controversial views against liberal doctrine were said to influence several of England's conservative Tory leaders. After serving in the Queen's Royal Regiment from 1944 to 1948, he completed his master's degree at Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1952. He then taught at the college as a fellow for two years, but abruptly left to work in the British Foreign Office for a year. He then pursued a journalism career as a writer for the London Times from 1955 to 1956, and as a writer for the London Daily Express from 1955 to 1957. Some of his highly provocative articles never saw print, and philosophical differences with his editor led him to quit the Express. Cowling tried his hand at politics next, running unsuccessfully for Parliament in 1959 against former Minister of War Frederick Bellenger. Cowling then decided to go back to academia, returning to Cambridge as a lecturer in history in 1961 at Jesus College. He worked at Peterhouse College as a reader in history from 1963 until 1988, and was a fellow there from 1988 until his retirement in 1993. As a teacher, Cowling was very popular with his students, who found him humorous and provocative. It was Cowling's opinion that liberalism is a pariah on English society that aims to replace Christianity with a secular philosophy that all must follow. He criticized the ideals set down by British utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill, in particular, and all those who followed him. At one point, he even went so far as to assert that Britain's entry into World War II was a mistake that was designed primarily by the likes of such politicians as Winston Churchill for the sole purpose of maintaining power. Cowling's conservative views have been credited with influencing such politicians as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Michael Portillo, the latter of whom served as defense secretary under Prime Minister John Major. Of the former, however, Cowling once asserted that Thatcher's extreme Toryism was distasteful to him. The historian expressed his views in a number of books, including Mill and Liberalism (1963), The Impact of Hitler: British Politics and British Policy, 1933–1940 (1975), and the three-volume Religion and Public Doctrine in Modern England (1980, 1985, 2001).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Daily Telegraph (London, England), August 26, 2005.
Independent (London, England), September 6, 2005, p. 30.
Times (London, England), August 26, 2005, p. 72.