Hugh Thomas (writer)

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Hugh Swynnerton Thomas, Baron Thomas of Swynnerton (born 21 October 1931) is an English historian and writer.[1]


Thomas was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset before taking a BA in 1953 at Queens' College, Cambridge, he was a major scholar and he is now an Honorary Fellow. He gained a First Class in Part I of the History Tripos in 1952 and was President of the Union in 1953. He also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. His 1961 book The Spanish Civil War won the Somerset Maugham Award for 1962. A significantly revised and enlarged third edition was published in 1977. Cuba, or the Pursuit of Freedom (1971) is a book of over 1,500 pages tracing the history of Cuba from Spanish colonial rule until the Cuban Revolution.

Thomas is married to the former Vanessa Jebb, a painter and daughter of the first Acting United Nations Secretary-General Gladwyn Jebb, 1st Baron Gladwyn, and ambassador in Paris. They have three children.

From 1954–1957, Thomas worked in the Foreign Office partly as secretary of the British Delegation to the sub-committee of the UN Disarmament Commission. From 1966 to 1975, he was Professor of History at the University of Reading, and Chairman of the European committee. He was then Chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies in London from 1979 to 1991, which worked for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He became a life peer as Baron Thomas of Swynnerton, of Notting Hill in Greater London in letters patent dated 16 June 1981.[2]

He has written pro-European political works such as Europe: the Radical Challenge (1973), as well as histories. He is also the author of three novels.


  • Disarmament - the way ahead Fabian Society (1957).
  • The Spanish Civil War (1961); Penguin Books Ltd (1968); 2nd Revised edition (1977); 4th Revised edition (2003). A new revised edition in 2011 commemorated the book being 50 years in print; it was published in 15 languages.
  • Cuba or the Pursuit of Freedom (1971); revised editions (1998), (2002), (2010).
  • Europe: the Radical Challenge (1973).
  • An Unfinished History of the World (1979); published in USA as A History of the World, then as "World History" (1998); and by the original title in London (by Hamish Hamilton) in (1979) and with revised editions in (1981) and (1982).
  • The revolution on balance (1983), Washington, DC; Cuban American National Foundation 1983 (CANF pamphlet #5).
  • Armed Truce (1986).
  • Ever Closer Union (1991).
  • The conquest of Mexico (1993); published in USA as Conquest: Montezuma, Cortés and the Fall of Old Mexico.
  • The Slave Trade: The History of the Atlantic Slave Trade 1440–1870 (1997); Simon and Schuster.
  • Who Is Who of the Conquistadors (2000).
  • Rivers of Gold (2003); first book of a trilogy about the Spanish Empire.
  • Beaumarchais in Seville (2006); ISBN 978-0-300-12103-2.
  • Eduardo Barreiros and the Recovery of Spain (2009); a biography of Eduardo Barreiros.
  • The Golden Age: The Spanish Empire of Charles V (2010); second book of a trilogy about the Spanish Empire. Published in USA as The Golden Empire: Spain, Charles V, and the Creation of America (2011).
  • The World's Game; a novel.
  • The Oxygen Age; a novel.
  • The Suez Affair (1966); an analysis of the Suez Crisis of 1956.
  • Goya's 'The Third of May': Europe, The Radical Challenge, 1808 (1972).
  • World Without End: The Global Empire of Philip II (2014); third volume a trilogy about the Spanish Empire.

Thomas wrote a biography of John Strachey that was published in London and New York in 1973.


Lord Thomas won the Somerset Maugham Award (1962), the Nonino Prize (2009), the Boccaccio Prize (2009), the Gabarron Prize (2008) and the Calvo Serer Prize (2009). The French Government appointed him Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2008 and he has received the Grand Cross of the Order of Isabel the Catholic from Spain as well as the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle. And the Joaquín Romero Murube Prize in Seville (2013).


  1. ^ Instituto Cervantes: Portal de hispanismo Retrieved on 2009-10-31
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 48657. p. 8253. 19 June 1981. Retrieved 2009-05-28.