Taylor, A.J.P.

   b. 1906, Birkdale, Lancashire; d. 1990
   Historian
   Alan John Percival Taylor was one of the most prominent and respected historians of the century. An unorthodox Marxist radical who lectured at Manchester and Oxford (1938–63), Taylor had a narrative flair for provocative, intuitive commentary and illuminating detail. His reputation was established by the controversial The Origins of the Second World War (1961), an original work which argues that Hitler was an opportunist who improvised history rather than planned it (the book is one of a seminal five-volume history of Europe that covers the period 1848–1948). Many of his theories rest upon notions of history occurring not through progress and human determination but through chance and mistake. He was considered a maverick historian for his irony and commitment, and became a national figure through his appearances in the early 1950s on the BBC’s In the News and then on ITV’s Free Speech. His autobiography, A Personal History, appeared in 1983.
   See also: history; Hobsbawm, Eric
   PETER CHILDS

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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