Twitchett, Denis Crispin 1925-2006

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Twitchett, Denis Crispin 1925-2006


Born September 23, 1925, in London, England; died February 24, 2006, in Cambridge, England; married Umeko Ichikawa, 1956 (died, 1993); children: Peter, Nicholas. Education: St. Catherine's College, Cambridge University, England, B.A., 1949;Cambridge University, M.A., 1950, Ph.D., 1955.


University of London, London, England, professor of Far Eastern history, 1954-56; Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, professor of Chinese classics, 1956-60, professor of Chinese and department chair, 1968-80; School of Oriental and African Studies, London, professor of Chinese and chair of the department of Far Eastern languages and literature, 1960-68; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, Gordon Wu Professor of Chinese Studies, 1980-94, professor emeritus, 1994—2006. St. Catharine's College, emeritus fellow, Cambridge, beginning 1980. Military service: British Royal Navy; served during World War II.


British Academy (fellow).


(Editor, with Arthur F. Wright) Confucian Personalities,Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1962.

Land Tenure and the Social Order in T'ang and Sung China: An Inaugural Lecture Delivered on 28 November 1961, University of London, School of Oriental and African studies (London, England), 1962.

Financial Administration under the T'ang Dynasty,2nd edition, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1970.

Perspectives on the T'ang, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1973.

(Editor and contributor, with P.J.M. Geelan) The Times Atlas of China, Times Books (London, England), 1974.

The Birth of the Chinese Meritocracy: Bureaucrats and Examinations in T'ang China, China Society (London, England), 1976.

(Editor) The Cambridge History of China, Volume 3:Sui and T'ang China 589-906, Part I, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1979.

Printing and Publishing in Medieval China, Frederic C. Beil (New York, NY), 1983.

The Writing of Official History under the T'ang,Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1992.

The Historian, His Readers, and the Passage of Time: The Fu Ssu-nien Memoiral Lectures 1996,Institute of History and Philogophy, Academia Sinica (Taipei, China), 1997.

Contributor to The Times Atlas of World History.General editor, with John K. Fairbank, The Cambridge History of China, fifteen volumes, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1978-2002; consulting editor,The Cambridge Encyclopedia of China, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1991. Editor of periodical Asia Major. Cambridge History of China has been published in Chinese.


Denis Crispin Twitchett was a Chinese scholar whose academic interests, according to Delia Davin in the London Guardian, "laid the foundations for the systematic study in western academia of the government and institutions of imperial China." Twitchett also authored, edited, and contributed to several books about China and may be best remembered for his efforts in helping to create the ambitious Cambridge History of China, for which Twitchett served as general editor with John K. Fairbank. In his obituary of Twitchett in the New York Times, Wolfgang Saxon referred to the historical series as "a monumental fifteen-volume study widely regarded as the most comprehensive history of China in the English language."

Twitchett also authored The Writing of Official History under the T'ang. "This book is actually the cumulation of forty years of Twitchett's research, both published and unpublished, in the field of T'ang history and historiography," according to Jennifer W. Jay in the Canadian Journal of History. Jay added: "The volume is certainly a welcome addition to T'ang history and should become the primary research tool of any graduate student in traditional Chinese historiography." In an obituary in the London Times, a contributor summed up Twitchett's career this way: "It was largely thanks to Twitchett's energy and foresight that historians can no longer ignore East Asia as one of the formative factors in the humanities, and that specialists of contemporary China have no excuse to judge modern developments without realizing the significance of their precedents."



Canadian Journal of History, August, 1993, Jennifer W. Jay, review of The Writing of Official History under the T'ang, p. 378; April, 2000, Min-sun Chen, review of The Cambridge History of China,Volume 8, p. 205.

Historian, winter, 1994, Hugh R. Clark, review of The Writing of Official History under the T'ang,p. 407.

History: Review of New Books, fall, 1998, Jonathan Porter, review of The Cambridge History of China, Volume 8, p. 42.

Pacific Affairs, spring, 1993, Keith Forster, review ofThe Cambridge History of China, Volume 15, p. 97.



Guardian (London, England), April 19, 2006, Delia Davin, "Denis Twitchett."

New York Times, March 30, 2006, Wolfgang Saxon, "Denis Twitchett, 80, Scholar Who Created History of China," p. A24.

Times (London, England), March 15, 2006, p. 58.