Alan John Percival Taylor Biography

A.J.P. Taylor, an eloquent and fiercely argumentative historian and journalist, was known for his excellent oratory skills and controversial debates. With a passion for history, particularly the history of Europe, he sought to help the world understand the present by delving into the past. As a popular media figure, he wrote columns for leading newspapers, ventured into radio and television, and became a panelist in major debates. Despite his busy life, he found time to write with great passion, resulting in best-selling books that captivated readers. To discover more about this remarkable scholar, delve into the biography below.

Quick Facts

  • British Celebrities Born In March
  • Also Known As: A. J. P. Taylor
  • Died At Age: 84
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Eve Crosland (m. 1951–1974), Éva Haraszti-Taylor (m. 1976–1990), Margaret Adams (m. 1931–1951)
    • Father: Constance Sumner Taylor
    • Mother: Percy Lees Taylor
  • Born Country: England
  • Historians
  • British Men
  • Died on: September 7, 1990
  • Place of death: London, England
  • Diseases & Disabilities: Parkinson’s Disease
  • City: Southport, England
  • More Facts
  • Education: Bootham School, Oriel College

Childhood & Early Life

Alan John Percivale Taylor was born to Percy Lees Taylor and Constance Sumner Thompson. Both of his parents were ardent left-wing supporters and favored the Labor Party in England. He attended the Bootham School in York, a Quaker school, before going to Oriel College, Oxford in 1924 to study modern history. He graduated in 1927 and worked as a legal clerk for some time before traveling to Vienna to study the influence of the Chartist movement on the Revolution of 1848. He later studied Italian unification for two years, which led to the publication of his book ‘The Italian Problem in European Diplomacy, 1847–49’ in 1934.

Career

From 1930 to 1938, Taylor lectured at the University of Manchester as a teacher of history. In 1938, he was elected as a Fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford. He also started lecturing at Oxford on modern history from 1938 onwards and became popular due to his excellent oratory skills. During World War II, he served in the Home Guard and also lent his services to the Political Warfare Executive as an expert on Central Europe. Alongside his teaching job, Taylor continued to write and publish. He published ‘The Habsburg Monarchy’ in 1941, a detailed study of the Habsburg dynasty, and ‘Bismarck’, a biography of the famous German statesman. He was invited by the BBC to be a member of the panel on their show ‘In The News’ in 1950, making him one of the early historians to appear on television. He worked as a columnist for the ‘Observer’ in 1957 and had previously worked for the ‘Manchester Guardian’ as a book reviewer, as well as a columnist for the ‘Sunday Pictorial’ and the newspaper ‘Daily Herald’. Taylor lectured again in 1964 at the Institute of Historical Research in London, University College London, and the Polytechnic of North London. In 1972, he wrote the biography of his friend Lord Beaverbrook, a prominent British figure. Taylor made his last television appearance with ‘How Wars End’ in 1985.

Major Works

Taylor’s book ‘The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848–1918’ is considered a work of genius, as it accounts for the events in Europe after the fall of the Habsburg, Romanov, and Hohenzollern dynasties towards the end of World War I. In 1955, he published a biography of Otto von Bismarck, which became a best-seller. His book ‘English History 1914–1945’, in which he glorified the history of England, was also a huge success, outselling any of Oxford’s ‘History of England’ volumes.

Personal Life & Legacy

Taylor married Margaret Adams in 1931, and they had four children before divorcing in 1951. He then married Eve Crosland in 1951 and had two children with her before their divorce in 1974. Despite being married to Eve, Taylor continued to live with Margaret, whom he passionately loved. He married for a third time to Éva Haraszti, a Hungarian historian. In 1984, Taylor was severely injured in an accident while crossing Old Compton Street in London, which led to his retirement from public life. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease in his last years and was admitted to a nursing home in 1987, where he passed away at the age of 84.

Trivia

Alan John Percivale Taylor made a cameo appearance in the 1981 British film ‘Time Bandits’.

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