Trevor-Roper, H(ugh) R(edwald) 1914-2003

views updated

TREVOR-ROPER, H(ugh) R(edwald) 1914-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born January 15, 1914, in Glanton, Northumberland, England; died of cancer January 26, 2003, in Oxford, England. Historian, educator, and author. As Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University from 1957 to 1980, Trevor-Roper commanded respect for his erudition and for the wide range of his topical expertise, but he was also contentious, controversial, and, according to some, his own worst enemy. Trevor-Roper achieved celebrity with the publication in 1947 of his book The Last Days of Hitler, commissioned by the British government on the strength of the author's intelligence work during World War II. He was reduced to ignominy in 1983 when he failed to detect several purported Hitler diaries as forgeries. The intervening years were filled with both crowning achievements and intellectual feuds. Trevor-Roper was noted for his panoramic grasp of history, from the fall of the Roman Empire to the spy scandals of his own day, and for his eagerness to synthesize analyses based on a wide range of sources, from anthropology and economics to philosophy and psychology. He was criticized, however, for what was perceived as antipathy to the Christian church and his Conservative reluctance to acknowledge the work of some of his left-wing colleagues. Trevor-Roper was created a life peer in 1979, entering the House of Lords as Lord (or Baron) Dacre of Glanton. In 1980 he left Oxford to become the master of Peterhouse, a college of Cambridge University, but his time there was marred by some rather public squabbles featuring Trevor-Roper as a confrontational participant. When the Hitler diary hoax was exposed in 1983 Trevor-Roper was at the mercy of his enemies and the press. Over a long career he produced nearly twenty volumes of essays, the scholarly value of which will likely outlast their author's public image. These include The Philby Affair: Espionage, Treason, and Secret Services, A Hidden Life: The Enigma of Sir Edmund Backhouse, and From Counter-Reformation to Glorious Revolution.



Chicago Tribune, January 27, 2003, section 1, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, January 27, 2003, p. B10.

New York Times, January 27, 2003, obituary by Paul Lewis, p. A25.

Times (London, England), January 27, 2003.

Washington Post, January 27, 2003, obituary by Richard Pearson, p. B4.

About this article

Trevor-Roper, H(ugh) R(edwald) 1914-2003

Updated About content Print Article