Who was Herbert Butterfield?

Michael Bentley looks at the father of British historiography who was an eloquent and controversial opponent of teleology.

Herbert Butterfield, c. 1955. Photo / Governing Body of Peterhouse, CambridgeWho was Herbert Butterfield? The answer is no longer obvious. Readers of ‘a certain age’ will recall the name and may remember reading The Whig Interpretation of History in their younger days. For those under 50 Butterfield may have little or no resonance, supplanted as he was by E.H. Carr and What is History? He also fell victim to a general view that his greatest opponent, Lewis Namier, was a far more important historian.

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