John Andrew Gallagher

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

John "Jack" Andrew Gallagher, FBA (1 April 1919 – 5 March 1980) was a distinguished historian of the British Empire who between 1963 and 1970 held the Beit Professorship of Commonwealth History at the University of Oxford and from 1971 until his death was the Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at the University of Cambridge.

After schooling at the Birkenhead Institute, he proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge, as a History Scholar and with the outbreak of the Second World War he joined the Royal Tank Regiment, eventually serving in Italy, Greece, and North Africa. After the end of the war, Gallagher returned to Cambridge to complete his studies and was elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1948.[1]

Gallagher's extraordinarily influential work, Africa and the Victorians: The Official Mind of Imperialism,[2] was co-authored with Ronald Robinson (with the help of Alice Denny) and first published in 1961. This was preceded by a widely read article—also co-authored with Robinson—entitled, The Imperialism of Free Trade.[3] Published in 1953, the latter constitutes a groundbreaking essay among theorists of imperial expansion and "is reputedly the most cited historical article ever published".[4]

In 1974 he delivered both the Ford Lectures at Oxford (On the theme of the Decline, Revival and Fall of the British Empire) as well as the Wiles Lectures at Queen's University Belfast. When a team of students of Trinity College, Cambridge, won University Challenge in 1974 (Christopher Vane, Frederick 'Wynn' Jolley, Simon Schaffer, and Paul Hopkins), Gallagher was part of a Trinity fellows team ( Sir James Lighthill, Dr Bradfield, Mr JA Weir) which defeated them in a contest on live television.

In addition to being one of the most prominent theorists of imperial expansion, he also ensured a considerable legacy as a result of the large numbers of doctoral students at both Cambridge and Oxford whose work he either supervised or strongly influenced. But three of the more prominent ones include: Christopher Bayly, Paul Kennedy, and William Roger Louis.


  1. ^ Anil Seal's 'Preface' in John Gallagher and Anil Seal, The Decline, Revival and Fall of the British Empire (Cambridge, 1982), p. vii.
  2. ^ Robinson, Ronald and Gallagher, John, with Denny, Alice, Africa and the Victorians. The Official Mind of Imperialism, London and Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1981 (2nd paperback edition)
  3. ^ Gallagher, John and Robinson, Ronald, "The Imperialism of Free Trade", The Economic History Review, vol. VI, n. 1, 1953
  4. ^ Wm. Roger Louis, 'Historians I Have Known', Perspectives (May 2001) [1].