Lawson, M(ichael) K(enneth) 1950–
Lawson, M(ichael) K(enneth) 1950–
PERSONAL: Born 1950, in England. Education: University of York, B.A., Oxford University, D.Phil.
ADDRESSES: Home—London, England. Office—St. Paul's School, Lonsdale Road, London, SW13 9JT, England.
CAREER: St. Paul's School, London, England, history master.
Cnut: The Danes in England in the Early Eleventh Century, Longman (New York, NY), 1993.
The Battle of Hastings, 1066, Tempus (Gloucester, England), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Writer and historian M. K. Lawson serves as history master at St. Paul's School in London. His focus is on medieval history, and his work on that subject includes Cnut: The Danes in England in the Early Eleventh Century and The Battle of Hastings, 1066.
Cnut, part of a multi-author series on the medieval world, consists of a biographic account of Cnut's life, as well as an analysis of Anglo-Danish governing practices and patronage from the first part of the eleventh century. It is the first biographical work of Cnut since the 1912 book written by L. M. Larson. In American Historical Review, Alfred P. Smyth remarked that "any writer tackling the subject of England in the age of Cnut is faced with a problem of marrying two sets of source materials that are basically incompatible and … notoriously fragmentary." He added that Lawson's book "does attempt to … knead this disparate material into a coherent narrative." He concluded that "this is a useful book that will be read with interest by professional historians and with much profit by undergraduates, for whom there is nothing else quite like it in its field." Frank Barlow, contributing to the English Historical Review, found the book "a strange mixture of highly technical and … sometimes rather baffling discussions," but overall remarked that it "has extended our knowledge and understanding of the period."
In The Battle of Hastings, 1066, Lawson studies the famous battle through a careful examination of the available sources with an eye more toward asking new, in-depth questions rather than rehashing old theories. He carefully goes over all the sources for the battle both English and French, paying special attention to the geography and geology of the battlefield. He then discusses the armies involved, speculating that they might have been far larger than has been assumed, and providing reasons for his hypothesis. Stephen R. Morillo, in a review for the Journal of Military History, remarked that "Lawson makes informed, judicious judgments about all the various episodes that have raised controversy,… with an emphasis on raising possibilities rather than seeking final answers." He went on to state that "this must remain the definitive book on this famous battle until more evidence comes to light." British Heritage contributor David Marcou indicated that Lawson "has written what has been called the most complete history of the Battle of Hastings in more than one hundred years." Spectator reviewer Montagu Curzon wrote that "Lawson does justice to all that is known of the battle of Hastings and offers a fascinating, authoritative, well constructed critique of all the sources," concluding that "he can show the battle as tremendous as were its consequences."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, October, 1994, Alfred P. Smyth, review of Cnut: The Danes in England in the Early Eleventh Century, p. 1303.
British Heritage, July, 2004, David Marcou, review of The Battle of Hastings, 1066, pp. 59-60.
Choice, November, 2004, S. Morillo, review of The Battle of Hastings, 1066, pp. 553-554.
English Historical Review, February, 1996, Frank Barlow, review of Cnut, pp. 144-145; February, 2004, Sean McGlynn, review of The Battle of Hastings, 1066, p. 163.
Journal of Military History, April, 2003, Stephen R. Morillo, review of The Battle of Hastings, 1066, p. 548.
Spectator, March 20, 2004, Montagu Curzon, "The Year of the Comet," review of The Battle of Hastings, 1066, p. 52.
St. Paul's School Web site, http://www.stpaulsschool.org.uk/ (February 9, 2005), "M. K. Lawson."
Trafalgar Square Books Web site, http://www.trafalgarsquarebooks.com/ (February 9, 2005), "M. K. Lawson."