Keith Feiling

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Sir Keith Grahame Feiling (1884–1977) was Chichele Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford, 1946–1950. He was noted for his conservative interpretation of the past, showing an empire-oriented ideology in defence of hierarchical authority, paternalism, deference, the monarchy, Church, family, nation, status, and place. A Tory Democrat, he felt that conservatives possessed more character than other people, as he tried to demonstrate in his books on the history of the Conservative Party. He acknowledged the necessity of reform—as long as it was gradual, top-down, and grounded not in abstract theory but in an appreciation of English history. Thus he celebrated the reforms of the 1830s.[1] English historian A.J.P. Taylor in 1950 praised Feiling's historiography, calling it "Toryism" in contrast to the more common "Whig history", or liberal historiography, written to show the inevitable progress of mankind. Taylor explains, "Toryism rests on doubt in human nature; it distrusts improvement, clings to traditional institutions, prefers the past to the future. It is a sentiment rather than a principle."[2]

Early life and education[edit]

The son of Ernest Feiling and Joan Barbara Hawkins, Keith Grahame Feiling was educated at Marlborough College, Marlborough, Wiltshire, England and Balliol College, Oxford. He graduated with first-class honours in Modern History in 1906.[3]

Academic career[edit]

Feiling was appointed tutor in history at Christ Church, Oxford in 1911 and became lecturer in Modern History in 1928 and was elected Ford's Lecturer in 1930. He was Chichele Professor of Modern History at All Souls College, Oxford between 1946 and 1950.

Honours[edit]

He was invested as an Officer, Order of the British Empire and was awarded the James Tait Black Award for his biography of Warren Hastings in 1954.

For Feiling's 80th birthday in 1964, Hugh Trevor-Roper edited a festschrift, Essays in British history presented to Sir Keith Feiling with a foreword by Lord David Cecil.

Published works[edit]

  • Italian policy since 1870 (1914)
  • A history of the Tory party, 1640-1714 (1924)
  • England under the Tudors and Stuarts (1927)
  • British foreign policy, 1660-1672 (1930)
  • What is conservatism? (1930)
  • The second Tory party, 1714-1832 (1938)
  • The study of the modern history of Great Britain, 1862–1946; an inaugural lecture delivered before the University of Oxford on 1 February 1947 (1947)
  • A history of England, from the coming of the English to 1918 (1950)

Further reading[edit]

  • Reba N. Soffer. History, Historians, and Conservatism in Britain and America: From the Great War to Thatcher and Reagan (2009).
  • A. L. Rowse, Historians I Have Known, Duckworth, London, 1995, pp. 25–29

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Soffer (2009)
  2. ^ A.J.P. Taylor, Essays in English history (1976) p 18
  3. ^ Oxford University Calendar 1913, p. 160