Margaret MacMillan

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Margaret MacMillan
MacMillan in 2017
Margaret Olwen MacMillan

(1943-12-23) December 23, 1943 (age 80)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisSocial and Political Attitudes of British Expatriates in India, 1880–1920 (1974)
Academic work
Notable worksPeacemakers: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War (2001) Edit this at Wikidata

Margaret Olwen MacMillan, OM CC CH FRSL FRSC FBA FRCGS (born December 23, 1943) is a Canadian historian and professor at the University of Oxford. She is former provost of Trinity College, Toronto, and professor of history at the University of Toronto and previously at Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University). MacMillan is an expert on the history of international relations.

MacMillan was the 2018 Reith lecturer, giving five lectures across the globe on the theme of war under the title The Mark of Cain, the tour taking in London, York, Beirut, Belfast, and Ottawa.[1]


Margaret MacMillan was born to Dr Robert Laidlaw MacMillan and Eiluned Carey Evans on December 23, 1943. Her maternal grandfather was Major Sir Thomas J. Carey Evans of the Indian Medical Service. The senior Evans served as personal physician to Rufus Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading, during the latter's term as Viceroy of India (1921–26). Her maternal grandmother, Lady Olwen Carey Evans, was a daughter of David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and his first wife, Dame Margaret Lloyd George.[2]

British popular historian and television presenter Dan Snow is her nephew.


MacMillan received a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in history from the University of Toronto, where she attended Trinity College. She holds a Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil) degree in politics from St Hilda's College, Oxford, and a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree from St Antony's College, Oxford. Her doctoral dissertation was on the social and political perspectives of the British in India: it was titled "Social and political attitudes of British expatriates in India, 1880–1920" and was submitted in 1974.[3]

Academic career[edit]

From 1975 to 2002, she was a professor of history at Ryerson University in Toronto, including five years as department chair.[4] She was Provost of Trinity College, Toronto from 2002 to 2007. From 2007 to 2017, she was Warden of St Antony's College, Oxford,[5] and Professor of International History at the University of Oxford.[6] In December 2017, she became an honorary fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.[7]

She is the author of Women of the Raj. In addition to numerous articles and reviews on a variety of Canadian and world affairs, MacMillan has co-edited books dealing with Canada's international relations, including with NATO, and with Canadian–Australian relations.

From 1995 to 2003, MacMillan co-edited the International Journal, published by the Canadian Institute of International Affairs. She previously served as a member of the National Board of Directors of the CIIA, now the Canadian International Council, and currently sits on the International Journal's Editorial Board.[8] She was the Young Memorial Visitor at Royal Military College of Canada in 2004 and delivered the J.D. Young Memorial Lecture on November 24, 2004.[9]

MacMillan's research has focused on the British Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and on international relations in the 20th century. Over the course of her career, she has taught a range of courses on the history of international relations. She is a member of the European Advisory Board of Princeton University Press.[10]

Recognition and honours[edit]

External videos
video icon Booknotes interview with MacMillan on Paris 1919, December 29, 2002, C-SPAN

Her most successful work is Peacemakers: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War, also published as Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World. Peacemakers won the Duff Cooper Prize for outstanding literary work in the field of history, biography or politics; the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History; the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for the best work of non-fiction published in the United Kingdom and the 2003 Governor General's Literary Award in Canada.

MacMillan has served on the boards of the Canadian Institute for International Affairs, the Atlantic Council of Canada, the Ontario Heritage Foundation, Historica and the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy (Canada). She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an Honorary Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford and a Senior Fellow of Massey College, University of Toronto. She has honorary degrees from the University of King's College, the Royal Military College of Canada and Ryerson University, Toronto.

MacMillan was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in February 2006[11] and promoted to a Companion, the highest grade of the order, on December 30, 2015.[12] MacMillan represented the order at the coronation of Charles III, King of Canada, and Queen Camilla on May 6, 2023.[13] In 2017, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May advised Queen Elizabeth II to appoint MacMillan as a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour. This was announced in the New Year honours list for 2018. She was chosen by Queen Elizabeth II and made a member of the Order of Merit by King Charles III in 2022.[14]

On May 29, 2018, MacMillan received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Memorial University in Newfoundland & Labrador.

In May 2019, MacMillan received an honorary degree from the American University of Paris.[15]

In May 2020, MacMillan was admitted as an Honorary Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.[16]

Articles and other media[edit]

MacMillan often appears in the popular and literary press, with a focus on events surrounding the First World War. Examples in 2014 include her retrospective trip to Sarajevo on the centenary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand,[17][18] and interview wherein she saw similarities between then and 100 years before, remarked on the 2014 Crimean crisis and her perception that Vladimir Putin deplored Russia's place in contemporary politics, mentioned Iraq and the contention between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands, and promoted the diplomatic corps.[19]

In September 2013, she was interviewed upon the release of her book The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914,[20] and was invited to lecture at the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History on "How Wars Start: The Outbreak of the First World War" near when she received an honorary doctorate from Huron College at the University of Western Ontario.[20] She perceived similar tensions then with the Syrian civil war and the events in Sarajevo.

MacMillan has written several op-eds for The New York Times. In December 2013, they abridged an essay of hers from the Brookings Institution,[21] in which she wrote that "Globalization can have the paradoxical effect of fostering intense localism and nativism, frightening people into taking refuge in small like-minded groups. Globalization also makes possible the widespread transmission of radical ideologies and the bringing together of fanatics who will stop at nothing in their quest for the perfect society", and urged Western leaders to "build a stable international order" based on "a moment of real danger" which would unite the population in "coalitions able and willing to act".[22]

On the ten-year anniversary of the 11 September attacks in New York, MacMillan wrote an essay on the consequences of the attacks, in which she dismissed the power of Osama bin Laden and stressed the secular nature of the Arab Spring revolutions that deposed Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.[23]

In August 2014, MacMillan was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[24]



External videos
video icon Q&A interview with MacMillan on Nixon and Mao, March 11, 2007, C-SPAN
video icon Presentation by MacMillan on The War That Ended Peace, November 4, 2013, C-SPAN
video icon Q&A interview with MacMillan on The War That Ended Peace, December 15, 2013, C-SPAN
  • Women of the Raj. Thames and Hudson, 1988; Women of the Raj: The Mothers, Wives, and Daughters of the British Empire in India. Random House LLC. 2007. ISBN 978-0-8129-7639-7.
  • Canada and NATO: Uneasy Past, Uncertain Future. Edited with David Sorenson. Waterloo, 1990.
  • The Uneasy Century: International Relations 1900–1990. Kendall/Hunt, 1996.
  • Parties Long Estranged: Canada and Australia in the Twentieth Century. Co-authored with Francine McKenzie. University of British Columbia, 2003.
  • Peacemakers: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War. John Murray 2001/2002/2003. ISBN 9780719559396
  • Canada's House: Rideau Hall and the Invention of a Canadian Home. Co-authored with Marjorie Harris and Anne L. Desjardins. Knopf Canada, 2004
  • Nixon in China: The Week That Changed the World. Viking Canada, 2006.
    • Nixon and Mao : the week that changed the world (1st U.S. pbk ed.). Random House. 2008.
  • The Uses and Abuses of History. Penguin Canada, 2008; The Uses and Abuses of History. Profile Books. 1 March 2010. ISBN 978-1-84668-210-0.
  • Stephen Leacock. Penguin Group US. 31 March 2009. ISBN 978-0-14-317521-6.
  • The War That Ended Peace: How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War. London: Profile Books. 2013. ISBN 9781846682728.
    • Canadian edition: The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914. Toronto: Penguin Canada. 2013. ISBN 9780670064045.
    • U.S. edition: The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914. New York: Random House. 2013. ISBN 9781400068555.
  • History's People: Personalities and the Past. CBC Massey Lectures. Toronto, ON: House of Anansi Press. 2015. ISBN 978-1-4870-0005-9. OCLC 913612314.
  • War: How conflict shaped us (First U.S. ed.). New York: Random House. 2020. ISBN 978-1-9848-5613-5. OCLC 1158508035.

Critical studies and reviews of MacMillan's work[edit]

Nixon and Mao


  1. ^ Reith Lectures 2018 "Professor Margaret MacMillan to go on tour recording BBC Radio 4's Reith Lectures in June", Media Centre, BBC, 19 April 2018. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  2. ^ University affairs: "The making of a best-seller" (January 2004) Archived 28 October 2004 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  3. ^ Macmillan, M. O. (1974). Social and political attitudes of British expatriates in India, 1880–1920. E-Thesis Online Service (Ph.D). The British Library Board. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  4. ^ Biography of Margaret Olwen MacMillan Archived 2011-05-20 at the Wayback Machine, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Retrieved 14 July 2007.
  5. ^ St Antony's College, University of Oxford, The Warden, archived from the original on 15 September 2008, retrieved 21 February 2008
  6. ^ Moss, Stephen (25 July 2014). "Margaret MacMillan: 'Just don't ask me who started the first world war'". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  7. ^ "Professor Margaret MacMillan elected LMH Honorary Fellow". Lady Margaret Hall. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  8. ^ "International Journal". 4 April 2017.
  9. ^ National Defence Canada. Prestigious author to be honoured at RMC. DND press release. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
  10. ^ Princeton University Press, European Advisory Board Archived 8 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Governor General announces new appointments to the Order of Canada", Governor General of Canada, 3 February 2006. Retrieved 9 September 2006.
  12. ^ "Order of Canada Appointments". The Governor General of Canada His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston. Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  13. ^ "Coronation order of service in full". BBC News. 6 May 2023. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  14. ^ "New Appointments to the Order of Merit". Royal Household. 11 November 2022. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  15. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients". American University of Paris. 9 November 2016. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  16. ^ "Learned Society of Wales Announces Two New Honorary Fellows". Learned Society of Wales. 29 April 2020.
  17. ^ MacMillan, Margaret (27 June 2014). "Margaret MacMillan in Sarajevo, 100 years later". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  18. ^ MacMillan, Margaret (27 June 2014). "The Archduke's assassination came close to being just another killing". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  19. ^ Scowen, Peter (22 March 2014). "Margaret MacMillan: How today is like the period before the First World War". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  20. ^ a b Martin, Sandra (7 September 2013). "Historian Margaret MacMillan on what the 'war to end wars' can teach us". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  21. ^ MacMillan, Margaret (14 December 2013). "The Rhyme of History: Lessons of the Great War". Brookings Institution. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  22. ^ MacMillan, Margaret (14 December 2013). "The Great War's Ominous Echoes". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  23. ^ Carter, Graydon; MacMillan, Margaret; Clarkson, Stephen; Stein, Janice; Graham, Bill (11 September 2011). "Essays on the unexpected consequences of 9/11". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  24. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". The Guardian. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • MacMillan, Margaret. "On Becoming an Historian" 23 February 2021 online at H-DIPLO, autobiographical essay.
  • MacMillan, Margaret, and Patrick Quinton-Brown. "The uses of history in international society: from the Paris peace conference to the present." International Affairs 95.1 (2019): 181–200 online.
  • Thomas, Michael (June–July 2014). "Here because we're here". The London Magazine: 1271–30. Review of The War That Ended Peace.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by Provost of the University of Trinity College
Succeeded by
Preceded by Warden of St Antony's College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Preceded by Massey Lecturer
Succeeded by
Media offices
Preceded by Reith Lecturer
Succeeded by
Preceded by Duff Cooper Prize
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Hessell-Tiltman Prize
Succeeded by
Preceded by Samuel Johnson Prize
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor General's Award
for English-language non-fiction

Succeeded by