The Morrill Majority

In the twenty-eighth and final essay in this series, Daniel Snowman meets John Morrill, historian of the Civil War, Oliver Cromwell and the recurrent political instability of the ‘Atlantic Archipelago’.

The Professor of British and Irish History at the University of Cambridge turned up sporting a splendid ‘Guinness’-emblazoned tie. It was a hot, sticky summer’s evening and John Morrill had spent much of the day working on the Ford Lectures he is to deliver in Oxford next year. But, in the best traditions of the God-fearing Puritans he and I were shortly to discuss, we decided to work first before allowing ourselves the pleasures of a nearby hostelry.

One of the leading authorities on the civil war and its participants, John Morrill is an expansive and exuberant conversationalist who gives the impression of being on almost personal terms with many of the seventeenth-century figures he writes about. He hasn’t produced many big books (and has abandoned some). Rather, Morrill’s most important work has often taken the form of scholarly articles and papers, alongside an impressive record as prime mover, editor and/or co-author of major collaborative works. He is the master of intellectual collegiality, of the engaging summary, the trenchant argument, the revisionist review, the compact biography.

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