Christopher Hill, deceased Feb. 24

Richard Fidler rfidler at
Wed Feb 26 07:44:22 MST 2003

February 26, 2003 (Times Online)

Christopher Hill

Historian and Master of Balliol College whose influential writings on
17th-century change were imbued with his Marxist beliefs

A former communist who became Master of Balliol College, Oxford,
Christopher Hill had an unparalleled command of the history of
17th-century England. His books on the period, such as Intellectual
Origins of the English Revolution (1965) and The World Turned Upside
Down (1972), broke new ground by placing ideological and radical causes
above the high political questions and contingencies.

A pioneer of "history from below", Hill used his immense knowledge of
writing, poetry, diaries and pamphlets to give a Marxist explanation for
the events of the mid 17th century. He argued that the period saw a
"revolution", which he compared to the events of 1789 and 1917.

Hill was a member of the Communist Party until 1957, and eight years
after his resignation he became Master of Balliol, having been a Fellow
there for more than 25 years. After he retired in 1978, he updated his
previous works and brought out collections of his essays, but he also
continued to write the sparkling prose that had brought him academic
admirers - and opponents - for more than half a century.


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