The Last Books of Hugh Trevor-Roper


It occurs to me that I should have been more specific in my previous post about the two books — so far — that have appeared since Lord Dacre’s death in 2003. Both of these had long “almost been finished,” but the former Regius Professor held off publishing them, possibly for fear of criticism. He never quite recovered from that Hitler Diaries debacle and he had many enemies at Peterhouse, Cambridge — which used to be known as “Hitlerhouse,” not only to remind Trevor-Roper of his humiliation at every opportunity but to reflect its dons’ robustly conservative views.)

The first of his posthumous works was Europe’s Physician: The Various Life of Sir Theodore De Mayerne (Yale University Press), which is by any definition a marvelous exposition, and the second, which appeared a month or so ago in Britain, is The Invention of Scotland: Myth and Tradition. Adam Sisman, who has been appointed Trevor-Roper’s biographer, reviews it here, the Tory journalist Simon Heffer discusses it here, while Ben Macintyre, author of several good popular histories (like this one and this one) is not quite as complimentary here

Personally, I think Trevor-Roper somewhat overstates the case about Scottish myths; much of this stuff has been around for years and some of it already appeared in his chapter on the creation of the kilt in the Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger-edited The Invention of Tradition. (Me, I’ve never quite understood whyor how Trevor-Roper hooked up with the likes of Hobsbawm . . . 

I hope this clears things up a bit. 

Posted by Alexander Rose,


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