|The Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield|
|Born||28 March 1947|
|Occupation||English historian and academic|
|Known for||Prize winning author|
Peter John Hennessy, Baron Hennessy of Nympsfield, FBA (born 28 March 1947) is an English historian of government. Since 1992, he has been Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary, University of London.
Hennessy is of Irish descent, the youngest of a large Catholic family. He was brought up in large council-requisitioned houses, first in Allandale Avenue and then in Lyndhurst Gardens, Finchley. He attended the nearby Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, and on Sundays he went to St Mary Magdalene Church, where he was an altar boy. He was a subject of the first episode of the BBC radio 4 series The House I Grew Up In first broadcast on 6 August 2007 in which he talked about his childhood.
Hennessy was educated at St Benedict's School, Ealing, west London. After his father's job led the family to move to the Cotswolds, he attended Marling School (a grammar school) in Stroud. He went on to attend St John's College, Cambridge where he was awarded a BA in 1969 and a PhD in 1990. Hennessy was a Kennedy Memorial Scholar at Harvard University from 1971-72.
Hennessy was a journalist for the Times Higher Education Supplement from 1972-74. He wrote leaders for The Times from 1974–82, for which he was also the Whitehall Correspondent. He was The Financial Times' Lobby Correspondent at Westminster in 1976 and he wrote for The Economist in 1982. He co-founded the Institute of Contemporary British History in 1986. He was a regular presenter of Analysis on BBC Radio 4 from 1987 to 1992. From 1994 to 1997, he gave public lectures as professor of rhetoric at Gresham College, London. From 1992-2000 he was Professor of Contemporary History at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. From 2001, he has been Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary.
Elevation to the Peerage
On 5 October 2010 the House of Lords Appointments Commission announced that Professor Hennessy was to be appointed a non-political crossbench peer. His title was announced on 8 November as Baron Hennessy of Nympsfield and he was introduced to the House of Lords on 25 November. "I'm terribly pleased and honoured," said Hennessy at hearing the news. "I hope I can help the House of Lords a bit on constitutional matters. I'll certainly give it my best shot."
He is married and has two daughters. He supports the English football team West Ham United and lives in Walthamstow. He is opposed to Reform of The House of Lords and favours retention of an appointed, hereditary and spiritual chamber.
Hennessy is the author of the following:
- Cabinet (1986) ISBN 0-631-14968-6
- Whitehall (1989) ISBN 0-02-914441-8
- Never Again: Britain 1945-51 (1992) ISBN 0-679-43363-5
- The Hidden Wiring: Unearthing the British Constitution (1995) ISBN 0-575-06176-6
- The Prime Minister: The Office and Its Holders since 1945 (2000) ISBN 0-312-29313-5
- The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War (2002) ISBN 0-7139-9626-9
- Republished and extended as The Secret State: Preparing For The Worst 1945 - 2010 (2010) ISBN 978-0-14-104469-9 Penguin
- Having it so good : Britain in the fifties (2006) ISBN 978-0-7139-9571-8
- Cabinets and the Bomb (2007) ISBN 978-0-19-726422-5 Oxford University Press
- List of Gresham Professors of Rhetoric
- 'Corrected Oral Transcript of Oral Evidence presented to the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee on the publication of political memoirs on 17 November 2005 by Lord Wilson of Dinton and Professor Peter Hennessy', 7 December 2005. Retrieved 31 December 2005