French Connection

Philip Ziegler tells how a chance invitation to a Loire château set him en route to becoming a historical biographer.

I still remember the opening sentence of my first school report after I had become a history specialist. ‘Ziegler’, the master concerned observed, ‘will never make a historian.’ I have never had cause to doubt the accuracy of this perceptive judgement. All my life I have loved history, read it voraciously, enjoyed the company of historians; but what has interested me most has always been human beings – why they act as they do, what values they hold, what they love and hate, what makes them tick. History for me is, above all, of importance as providing the framework in which innumerable individuals have their being; I have never been much of a man for the ant-hills, I prefer the ant.

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