18 July 2018

BOOK: Lawrence GOLDMAN, ed., Magna Carta: History, Context and Influence (London: Institute of Historical Research, 2018). ISBN 978-1-909646-87-2, £30.00

Next month, the University of London’s Institute of Historical Research will publish a new book on the history and influence of Magna Carta in British and American history


This book examines the history and influence of Magna Carta in British and American history. In a series of essays written by notable British specialists, it considers the origins of the document in the political and religious contexts of the thirteenth century, the relevance of its principles to the seventeenth century disputes that led to the Civil War, the uses made of Magna Carta to justify the American Revolution, and its inspiration of the radical-democratic movement in Britain in the early nineteenth century. The introductory essay considers the celebration of Magna Carta's 800th anniversary in 2015 in relation to ceremonials and remembrance in Britain in general. Given as papers to a joint conference of British and Chinese historians in Beijing in 2015, these essays provide a clear and insightful overview of the origins and impact of a medieval document that has shaped the history of the world. 


Lawrence Goldman was born and raised in London and attended the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School in Elstree (of which he is now a governor). He went to Jesus College, Cambridge in 1976 to read History, graduating with a double first in 1979. Awarded a Harkness Fellowship, he studied American History at Yale before returning to begin doctoral research at Trinity College, Cambridge on the history of social science in the Victorian period. He was elected to a Junior Research Fellowship in Trinity in 1982 and was then appointed to a university lectureship teaching History in the Oxford Department of Continuing Education in 1985. In 1990 he became a tutorial fellow in History at St. Peter’s College, Oxford, where he remained for 24 years teaching modern British and American History. Between 2004 and 2014 he was the Editor of the newly-published Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, the record, in more than 65 million words, of the most notable figures in British history. He took up the Directorship of the Institute of Historical Research in 2014. He has contributed articles to leading journals like the English Historical Review, the Historical Journal and Past & Present and he is the author of books on Victorian Social Science, the history of Workers’ Education in Britain, and most recently, on the life of the political thinker and historian, R. H. Tawney. He is currently at work on a study of the development of social statistics and their impact on culture, politics and social thought in Britain under the title ‘Victorians and Numbers’.

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