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Historiography

Despite the myth of a lone genius toiling away into the night, history is a collective endeavour.

© Bridgeman Images.

Historiography is one of the essential tools for unlocking the past. Without it, history is a bloodless pursuit. 

The leading light of the French Annales school revolutionised the writing of history by imbuing it with wider, holistic, narratives and literary flair, says Alexander Lee.

Queen Elizabeth, attended by her Secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham, detecting Babington's conspiracy, by John Charles Bromley, 1830.

Inspired by a recent article in the New Statesman, we asked seven historians about how their understanding of the past has changed.

Iona Abbey from the ferry, by Phillip Capper.

Despite shifting priorities in education, the study of ancient and medieval history remains as important as ever.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall by @Sage_Solar

In the debate over the term 'Dark Ages' the importance of Tintagel in early medieval Britain should not be forgotten.

Engraving from a self-portrait, published in two of her works.

In the 18th century, when women in scholarship were not encouraged and medieval languages were little-studied even by men, Elizabeth Elstob become a pioneer in Anglo-Saxon studies, her work even finding its way into the hands of Thomas Jefferson.

Depiction of the Bodleian LIbrary in the 17th century, by Alfred Church, 1886. Bridgeman Images

Bishop William Stubbs was the last of the amateur historians and arguably the discipline’s first professional.

Sole surviving portrait: John Aubrey, 1666. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford / Bridgeman Images

John Aubrey, best known for his concise and incisive pen portraits of his 17th-century contemporaries, left no diary of his own. Ruth Scurr set herself the challenge of imagining one from the remnants of his life.

In need of rescue: William Camden (1551-1623) in an engraving of c.1636.

While we return again and again to the proto-historians of the classical world, we neglect those pioneering figures closer to us in space and time. Why is this, wonders Mathew Lyons?