Francis Thompson (historian)

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Francis Michael Longstreth Thompson CBE FBA (13 August 1925 – 23 August 2017)[1] was an English economic and social historian. He wrote several books.

Early life[edit]

The son of Francis Longstreth Thompson, he was educated at Bootham School, York; The Queen's College, Oxford, where he took a first-class BA in 1949; and Merton College, Oxford from 1949 to 1951, taking a DPhil in 1956.[2]


He was Reader in Economic History at University College London in 1963. He became Professor of Modern History at Bedford College in 1968, and was from 1977 to 1990 director of the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.[3]

He was president of the Royal Historical Society from 1989 to 1993.[4]

He was best known for English Landed Society in the Nineteenth Century (1963), which made the role of the landed gentry a high-priority topic for agrarian and political history. He also studied urban middle and working classes, and suburbia. He added to the long-standing debate on British class history by new emphasis on "respectability." Thompson argued that it operated across class boundaries and provided a powerful stabilizing counterbalance to the working class upheavals of Victorian society. His model of society contradicted the more commonly employed Marxist assumptions. He opened up a field that has attracted many younger scholars.[5]

Personal life[edit]

In 1951 Thompson married Anne Challoner; they had two sons and a daughter.[2][6]

Thompson died on 23 August 2017, aged 92.[6]


  • Victorian England: the horse-drawn society; an inaugural lecture (1970) at Bedford College
  • English Landed Society in the Nineteenth Century (1963)
  • The Rise of Suburbia (1982) editor
  • Horses in European Economic History: a preliminary canter (1983) editor
  • The Rise of Respectable Society: A Social History of Victorian Britain, 1830–1900 (1988)
  • The University of London and the World of Learning, 1836–1986 (1990)
  • The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750–1950 (1990, three volumes) editor
  • Gentrification and the Enterprise Culture: Britain 1780–1980 (1993) Ford Lectures
  • Landowners, Capitalists and Entrepreneurs (1994, editor)


  1. ^ Boyd, K. (1999). Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing. 1. Fitzroy Dearborn. p. 1190. ISBN 9781884964336. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900–1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 398.
  3. ^ "Search results | The British Academy". Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  4. ^ "List of Presidents". Royal Historical Society. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  5. ^ Christine S. Hallas, "Thompson, F.M.L." in Kelly Boyd, ed. (1999). Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing, vol 2. Taylor & Francis. pp. 1189–90. ISBN 9781884964336.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b "Francis THOMPSON Obituary - St Albans, Hertfordshire | The Times". Retrieved 4 March 2019.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
President of the Royal Historical Society
Succeeded by