George Macaulay Trevelyan,
OM, CBE, FRS, FBA (16
February 1876 – 21 July 1962), was an English historian.
Trevelyan was the third son of
Sir George Trevelyan,
, and great-nephew of Thomas Babington
, whose staunch liberal Whig
principles he espoused in accessible
works of literate narrative avoiding a consciously dispassionate
analysis, that became old-fashioned during his long and productive
career. The noted historian E. H. Carr
Trevelyan to be one of the last historians of the Whig tradition
Many of his writings promoted the Whig Party
, an important
aspect of British politics from the 1600s to the mid-1800s, and of
its successor, the Liberal Party. Whigs and Liberals believed the
common people had a more positive effect on history than did
royalty and that democratic government would bring about steady
Trevelyan's history is engaged and partisan. Of his Garibaldi
trilogy, "reeking with bias", he
remarked in his essay "Bias in History", "Without bias, I should
never have written them at all. For I was moved to write them by a
poetical sympathy with the passions of the Italian patriots of the
period, which I retrospectively shared."
was born into Late Victorian Britain in Welcombe, Stratford-on-Avon, the large house and estate owned by his maternal
grandfather, Robert Needham
Phillips, a wealthy Lancashire merchant and a Liberal MP for
Welcombe is a
hotel and spa for tourists visiting Shakespeare's birthplace.
Trevelyan's parents used Welcombe as a winter resort after they
inherited it in 1890. They looked upon Wallington Hall, the Trevelyan family estate in Northumberland as their real home. When his paternal
grandfather, Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan, died, George traced his
father's steps to Harrow
School and then Trinity College, Cambridge.
After attending Harrow, where he
specialised in history, Trevelyan studied at Trinity, where he was
a member of the secret society, the Cambridge Apostles
and founder of the
still existing Lake Hunt, a hare and
chase where both hounds and hares are human. In 1898 he
won a fellowship at Trinity with a dissertation that was published
the following year as England in the Age of Wycliffe
Trinity professor, Lord Acton
the young Trevelyan with his great wisdom and his belief in moral
judgement and individual liberty.
Role in Education
Trevelyan lectured at Cambridge until 1903 at which point he left
academic life. In 1927 he returned to the University to take up a
position as Regius
Professor of Modern History
, where the single student whose
doctorate he agreed to supervise was J.
(1936). In 1940 he was appointed as Master of Trinity College and
served in the post until 1951 when he retired.
declined the Presidency of the British
Academy but served as Chancellor of Durham
University from 1950 to
1958. Trevelyan College at Durham University is named after him.
won the 1920 James Tait
Black Memorial Prize
for the biography Lord Grey of the
, was elected a Fellow of the British Academy
in 1925, made a Fellow of
the Royal Society
in 1950, and was an
honorary doctor of many universities including Cambridge.
was the first president of the Youth Hostels Association and the YHA headquarters are called Trevelyan House
in his honour.
He worked tirelessly through his career on
behalf of the
, in preserving not merely historic houses, but
G.M. Trevelyan was a prolific author:
- England in the Age of Wycliffe (1899). The title of
this work is somewhat misleading, since it treats of the political,
social and religious conditions of England during the later years
of Wiclef's life only. Six of the nine
chapters are devoted to the years 1377 - 1385, while the last two
treat the history of the Lollard from 1382
until the Reformation.
- England Under the Stuarts (1904).
- The Poetry and Philosophy of George Meredith
- Garibaldi's Defence of the Roman
Republic (1907). This volume marks the entry of a new foreign
historian in the field of Italian Risorgimento, a period much neglected, or,
unworthily treated, outside of Italy.
- Garibaldi and the Thousand (1909).
- Garibaldi and the Making of Italy (1911). 10-digit
ISBN 1842124730, 13-digit ISBN 978-1842124734
- The Life of John Bright
- Clio: A Muse and Other Essays (1913).
- Scenes From Italy's War (1919).
- The Recreations of an Historian (1919).
- Lord Grey of the Reform Bill (1920).
- British History in the Nineteenth Century (1922).
- Manin and the Venetian
Revolution of 1848 (1923).
- History of England (1926).
- England Under Queen Anne:
- Blenheim (1930).
- Ramillies and the Union with Scotland (1932).
- The Peace and the Protestant Succession (1934).
- Sir George Otto Trevelyan: A Memoir (1932).
- Grey of Fallodon (1937).
- The English Revolution, 1688-1698 (1938).
- Trinity College: An Historical Sketch (1943). ISBN
- English Social History: A Survey of Six Centuries from
Chaucer to Queen Victoria (1944). 10-digit ISBN 058248488X,
13-digit ISBN 978-0582484887
- An Autobiography and Other Essays (1949). ISBN
- A Layman's Love of Letters (1954).
- GRO Register of Births: June 1876 6d 641 Stratford - George
- GRO Register of Deaths: September 1962 4a 179 Cambridge, aged
- Hernon, Jr., Joseph M. "The Last Whig Historian and Consensus
History: George Macaulay Trevelyan, 1876-1962." The American
Historical Review, 81 (1976): 66-97.
- Kriehn, George, “England in the Age of Wycliffe" The American
Historical Review 5, No. 1. (1899), 120-122.
- Grey, Nelson H. “Garibaldi’s Defence of the Roman Republic
(1907)." The American Historical Review 14, No 1 (2008):