Oxford History of England

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The Oxford History of England (1934–65) was a notable book series on the history of the United Kingdom. Published by Oxford University Press, it was originally intended to span from Roman Britain to the outbreak of the First World War in fourteen volumes written by eminent historians. Its series editor, Sir George Clark, contributed the first volume which appeared in 1934. The series as originally contemplated was completed in 1961. However, it was subsequently expanded and updated by further volumes and editions, taking the narrative as far as the end of the Second World War. Several volumes were subsequently "replaced" by revised editions of which the last was added in 1986.


Many of the volumes are now considered to be key classic works for their respective periods. In recent years some of the volumes have been released as stand-alone works. A New Oxford History of England was commissioned in 1992 and has produced eleven volumes to date. At least six volumes are still forthcoming. [1] John Bossy wrote in 1996 that the series "does not much ring in the mind" except for volumes 1, 2 and 15. [2] Patrick Wormald in 1981 similarly praised the same volumes (and "perhaps" volume 12) as "among the successes of a not entirely happy series". [3]

Volumes and authors

The volumes in the series are as follows:

Volume I A: Roman Britain Peter Salway (1981)
Volume I B: The English Settlements J. N. L. Myres (1986)

Several volumes were subsequently revised by the authors to take into account later research.

Use of the term England

When the series was commissioned:

"England" was still an all-embracing word. It meant indiscriminately England and Wales; Great Britain; the United Kingdom; and even the British Empire. (A. J. P. Taylor, Volume XV: English History, 19141945, page v)

Since then there has been a trend in history to restrict the use of the term England to the state that existed pre-1707 and to the geographic area it covered and people it contained in the period thereafter. The different authors interpreted "English history" differently, with Taylor opting to write the history of the British people, including the people of Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Empire and Commonwealth where they shared a history with England, but ignoring them where they did not. Other authors opted to treat non-English matters within their remit.[ citation needed ]

See also

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  1. "''New Oxford History of England''". Oup.com. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  2. Bossy, John (4 April 1996). "Zigzags". London Review of Books. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  3. Wormald, Patrick (19 November 1981). "Romanitas". London Review of Books. Retrieved 12 January 2021.