Keith Jeffery

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Keith Jeffery
Professor Keith Jeffery (5010833919).jpg
Born(1952-01-11)11 January 1952
Died12 February 2016(2016-02-12) (aged 64)
AwardsPrince Consort Prize (1978)
Seeley Medal (1978)
Templer Medal (2007)
Member of the Royal Irish Academy (2009)
Academic background
Alma materMethodist College Belfast University of Cambridge
Doctoral advisorJohn Andrew Gallagher
Academic work
InstitutionsQueen's University Belfast
Ulster University
Main interestsBritish Imperial and Irish history

First World War

Military intelligence
Notable worksField Marshal Sir Henry Wilson (2006)

MI6: the history of the Secret Intelligence Service, 1909–1949 (2010)

1916: a global history (2015)

Keith John Jeffery (11 January 1952 – 12 February 2016) MRIA was an Ulster historian specialising in modern British, British Imperial, and Irish history.

Early life[edit]

He attended Methodist College Belfast, where his father was vice principal.[1]


Having obtained his BA, MA, and PhD (1978) degrees from St. John's College, Cambridge, the latter under the supervision of John Andrew Gallagher, he was Professor of British history at Queen's University Belfast.[2] In 1998, Jeffery served as the Lees Knowles Lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 2003–4 the Parnell Fellow in Irish Studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He also held visiting positions at the Australian National University, the Australian Defence Force Academy and Deakin University.

Although much of his work was devoted to military history, his research more recently focused on the history of intelligence gathering. In 2005, he was commissioned by the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) to write an authorised history for the organisation's centenary, covering its founding in 1909 up through to 1949. John Scarlett, head of MI6 at the end of that period, said credibility required that Jeffery be given unrestricted access the files for the relevant period (1900–1949). Scarlett also was quite adamant that if James Bond had been real, he would not have been an agent, but a case officer, and that it was unthinkable that a mere agent would have so much autonomy, including a license to kill.[3][4] It was published in 2010.[5] A related study, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew was published in 2009.[6][7] His 1916: A Global History, published in 2015, looked at how twelve events from different arenas of war, including the Irish rebellion, reverberated around the world. He died on 12 February 2016.[8]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • States of Emergency: British governments and strikebreaking since 1919 (London, 1983) (co-editor with Peter Hennessy)
  • The British Army and the crisis of Empire, 1918–1922 (Manchester, 1984).
  • The Military Correspondence of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson (Army Record Society, 1985) (Edited).
  • Northern Ireland since 1968 (Oxford, 1988) (co-author with Paul Arthur)
  • Men, Women, and War (Dublin, 1993) (co-editor with T. G. Fraser)
  • A military history of Ireland (Manchester, 1996) (co-editor with Thomas Bartlett)
  • An Irish empire? Aspects of Ireland and the British Empire (Manchester, 1996) (editor)
  • Ireland and the Great War (Cambridge, 2000)
  • The GPO and the Easter Rising (Dublin, 2006)
  • Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson: a political soldier (Oxford, 2006)
  • MI6: The history of the Secret Intelligence Service, 1909–1949 (Bloomsbury, 2010) (published in the United States and Canada as The Secret History of MI6 [Penguin Press, 2010])
  • 1916: A global history (Bloomsbury, 2015)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ New, Paul. "Keith Jeffery obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Professor Keith Jeffery". Queen's University Belfast. Archived from the original on 7 January 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  3. ^ Interview of Jeffrey and Scarlett together on BookTV
  4. ^ Blaney, Niall (18 December 2006). "From Belfast With Love... tales of MI6". BBC News. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  5. ^ "The Authorised History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909–1949 (Hardcover)". Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  6. ^ "Book to detail top secrets of MI6". BBC News. 7 December 2005. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  7. ^ "The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (Hardcover)". Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  8. ^ "Respected Irish historian Keith Jeffery dies aged 64". The Irish News. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016.