Noel Malcolm

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Sir Noel Malcolm
BornNoel Robert Malcolm
(1956-12-26) 26 December 1956 (age 63)
Surrey, England, United Kingdom
OccupationHistorian, journalist
Alma materEton College
Peterhouse, Cambridge
Trinity College, Cambridge
SubjectHistory, politics, biography, literature

Sir Noel Robert Malcolm, FRSL, FBA (born 26 December 1956) is an English political journalist, historian and academic. A King's Scholar at Eton College, Malcolm read history at Peterhouse, Cambridge and received his Doctorate in History from Trinity College, Cambridge. He was a Fellow and College Lecturer of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, before becoming a political and foreign affairs journalist with The Spectator and the Daily Telegraph.

He stepped away from journalism in 1995 to become a writer and academic, being appointed as a visiting fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford for two years. He became a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL) in 1997, and a fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2001. Since 2002, he has been a senior research fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He was knighted in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to scholarship, journalism, and European history.

Early life and education[edit]

Malcolm was born on 26 December 1956.[1] He was educated at Eton College, an all-boys public school near Windsor, Berkshire, as a King's Scholar. He studied history at Peterhouse, Cambridge between 1974 and 1978. He received his PhD degree in History while he was at Trinity College, Cambridge.[2][3]


Malcolm was a fellow and college lecturer of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge from 1981 to 1988. He was a political columnist (1987–1991) then the foreign editor (1991–1992) of The Spectator, and a political columnist for the Daily Telegraph (1992–1995). He was jointly awarded the T. E. Utley Prize for Political Journalism in 1991.[3]

In 1995 he gave up journalism to become a full-time writer.[4] Malcolm was a visiting Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford in 1995–1996,[3] and has been a senior research fellow of All Souls College, Oxford since 2002.[5] He serves on the advisory board of the conservative magazine Standpoint.[6]

He used to be the chairman of the Bosnian Institute, London,[7] and president of the Anglo-Albanian Association.[8]


Malcolm became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL) in 1997, and a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2001. He is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers.[3] He is a Member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo, and an Honorary Fellow of both Peterhouse, Cambridge (since 2010) and Trinity College, Cambridge (since 2011).[5] In 2013, he was awarded the British Academy Medal for his book Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan.[9] Malcolm was knighted in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to scholarship, journalism, and European history.[10] In 2016, he was awarded the Presidential Gold Medal of the League of Prizren by the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi.[11]



Malcolm is the author of:

  • De Dominis, 1560–1624: Venetian, Anglican, ecumenist, and relapsed heretic (1984)
  • George Enescu: His Life and Music ( Toccata Press, 1990), which has been translated into several languages
  • Bosnia: A Short History (New York University Press, 1994), which has been translated into several languages
  • Origins of English Nonsense (HarperCollins, 1997)
  • Kosovo: A Short History (New York University Press, 1998)
  • Books on Bosnia: A critical bibliography of works relating to Bosnia-Herzegovina published since 1990 in West European languages (with Quintin Hoare) (Bosnian Institute, 1999)
  • Aspects of Hobbes (Oxford University Press, 2002)
  • John Pell (1611–1685) and His Correspondence with Sir Charles Cavendish: The Mental World of an Early Modern Mathematician (with Jacqueline Stedall) (Oxford University Press, 2005)
  • Agents of Empire: Knights, Corsairs, Jesuits and Spies in the Late Sixteenth-Century Mediterranean World (2015)
  • Useful Enemies: Islam and The Ottoman Empire in Western Political Thought, 1450-1750 (2019)
  • Rebels, Believers, Survivors: Studies in the history of the Albanians (Oxford University Press, 2020)[12]

He edited Reason of State, Propaganda, and the Thirty Years' War: An Unknown Translation by Thomas Hobbes (Clarendon Press, 2007), and The Correspondence of Thomas Hobbes (1994) and Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan (3 volumes, Oxford University Press, 2012), for which he was awarded a British Academy Medal.[3] He has also contributed over 40 journal articles or chapters in books since 2002.[5]


Malcolm has written many articles for newspapers, magazines and journals. Other than his work for The Spectator, the Daily Telegraph and Standpoint he has had articles published in The Guardian,[13] The Sunday Telegraph,[14] the New York Times,[15] Washington Times,[16] Time[17] and the Daily Mail[18] among other publications. He has also contributed book reviews mainly to The Sunday Telegraph.[19] He has contributed to a number of scholarly journals including Foreign Affairs[20] and the New York Review of Books.[21][22]

Critical reviews of Kosovo: A Short History[edit]

Malcolm's book Kosovo: A Short History (1998) saw robust debate among historians following its release. For example, the merits of the book were the subject of an extended debate in Foreign Affairs. The debate began with the review of the book by the former Fellow of the Russian Research Center at Harvard University, Aleksa Djilas. He wrote that Malcolm's book was "marred by his sympathies for its ethnic Albanian separatists, anti-Serbian bias, and illusions about the Balkans".[23] Malcolm responded by claiming that Djilas had not produced any evidence to counter that produced in the book, and had instead resorted to belittling both Malcolm and his work, including the use of personal slurs and patronising language.[20] The debate continued with Serbian-born Professor Stevan K. Pavlowitch of the University of Southampton asserting that Malcolm's book lacked precision, Melanie McDonagh of the Bosnian Institute claimed that Djilas' review took a "nationalistic approach", and Norman Cigar of Marine Corps University stating that Djilas was trying to create myths to legitimise Serbian actions in Kosovo.[24][25]

Other reviews of Kosovo: A Short History were varied. For example, in English Historical Review, Zbyněk Zeman observed that Malcolm "tries not to take sides",[26] but in American Historical Review, Nicholas J. Miller stated that the book was "conceptually flawed" due to Malcolm's insistence on treating Kosovo as "a place on its own; [rather than] a scrap of irredenta that Serbs and Albanians fight over".[27]

Later the same year, Thomas Emmert of the history faculty of Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota reviewed the book in Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans Online and while praising aspects of the book also asserted that it was "shaped by the author's overriding determination to challenge Serbian myths", that Malcolm was "partisan", and also complained that the book made a "transparent attempt to prove that the main Serbian myths are false".[28] Malcolm responded in the same journal in early 2000, asserting that the book challenged both Albanian and Serbian myths about Kosovo, but that there were more Serbian myths about Kosovo than Albanian ones and this explained the greater coverage of Serbian myths in the book. He also observed that Emmert's perspective and work was largely within the framework of Serbian historiography, and that Emmert's own perspective was the reason for Emmert's assertion that Malcolm was "partisan".[29] Emmert also criticized his opposition to the Serbian claim to Kosovo as the “cradle of civilization”, stating that Kosovo did become the center of medieval Serbia and that such feelings among modern Serbs should not be disputed.[28] He also noted the absence of Serbian archives.[28] Likewise, Tim Judah and Misha Glenny criticized Malcolm for not using Serbian sources in the book.[21][30] He responded that there were no proper Serbian archives for that period of history, but also noted that he had studied a large number of works by Serbian and Montenegrin authors.[21]

In 2006, a study by Frederick Anscombe looked at issues surrounding scholarship on Kosovo such as Noel Malcolm's work Kosovo: A Short History.[31] Anscombe noted that Malcolm offered "a detailed critique of the competing versions of Kosovo's history" and that his work marked a "remarkable reversal" of previous acceptance by Western historians of the "Serbian account" regarding the migration of the Serbs (1690) from Kosovo.[31] Malcolm has been criticized for being "anti-Serbian" and selective like the Serbs with the sources, while other more restrained critics note that "his arguments are unconvincing".[32] The majority of documents Malcolm uses were written by adversaries of the Ottoman state or by officials with limited experience of the region.[32] Anscombe notes that Malcolm, like Serbian and Yugoslav historians who have ignored his conclusions sideline and are unwilling to consider indigenous evidence such as that from the Ottoman archive when composing national history.[32]

In a 2007 work, the Serbian historian Dušan T. Bataković claimed that Malcolm's book about Kosovo was "notoriously pro-Albanian" regarding the Kosovo issue.[33] Frederick Anscombe has accused Bataković of writing several works in the 1980s and 1990s which advanced a Serbian nationalist perspective regarding Kosovo.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "MALCOLM, Sir Noel Robert". Who's Who 2016. Oxford University Press. November 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  2. ^ Malcolm 2000, p. 124.
  3. ^ a b c d e Debretts 2012.
  4. ^ Pan Macmillan 2012.
  5. ^ a b c All Soul's College 2012.
  6. ^ Standpoint 2012.
  7. ^ Bosnian Institute 2012.
  8. ^ Elsie 2010, p. 14.
  9. ^ "British Academy launches medal for landmark research". British Academy. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  10. ^ The Times 2013.
  11. ^ Thaçi, President of the Republic of Kosovo - Hashim. "President Thaçi honors Sir Noel Malcolm with the presidential "Gold Medal of the League of Prizren"". President of the Republic of Kosovo - Hashim Thaçi. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  12. ^ Malcolm, Noel (8 July 2020). Rebels, Believers, Survivors: Studies in the History of the Albanians. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-885729-7.
  13. ^ Malcolm 2008.
  14. ^ Malcolm 2001.
  15. ^ Malcolm 1999a.
  16. ^ Malcolm 1999b.
  17. ^ Malcolm 1998a.
  18. ^ Malcolm 1996.
  19. ^ Malcolm 1995.
  20. ^ a b Malcolm 1999c.
  21. ^ a b c Malcolm 1998c.
  22. ^ Malcolm 2007.
  23. ^ Djilas 1998.
  24. ^ "List of related articles in Foreign Affairs".
  25. ^ Noel Malcolm, Aleksa Djilas, et al. "Is Kosovo Real? The Battle Over History Continues," Foreign Affairs (January/February 1999).
  26. ^ Zeman 1999.
  27. ^ Miller 1998.
  28. ^ a b c Emmert 1999.
  29. ^ Malcolm 2000.
  30. ^ Judah 1998b.
  31. ^ a b Anscombe 2006, p. 770. "Noel Malcolm, who offers a detailed critique of the competing versions of Kosovo's history... Here is a remarkable reversal, as Malcolm, like other Western historians, had previously accepted the Serbian account."
  32. ^ a b c Anscombe 2006, pp. 770–771. "Malcolm is criticized for being anti-Serbian, and for using his sources as selectively as the Serbs, though the more restrained of his critics only suggest that his arguments are unconvincing. Most of the documents he relies on were written by enemies of the Ottoman Empire, or by officials with limited experience of the Ottoman Balkans... Malcolm, like the historians of Serbia and Yugoslavia who ignore his findings, overlooks the most valuable indigenous evidence. Unwillingness to consider Ottoman evidence when constructing national history is exemplified by the Serbian historians..."
  33. ^ (Bataković 2007, p. 13): "Notoriously pro-Albanian as regards the Kosovo issue is Noel Malcolm, Kosovo. A Short History (London: Mac- millan, 1998)."
  34. ^ Anscombe, Frederick (2006). "The Ottoman Empire in Recent International Politics - II: The Case of Kosovo" (PDF). The International History Review. 28 (4): 758–793. doi:10.1080/07075332.2006.9641103. JSTOR 40109813.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)




Newspapers and magazines[edit]

  • Malcolm, Noel (12 November 1995), "David Owen and His Balkan Bungling", The Sunday TelegraphCS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Malcolm, Noel (6 November 1996), "The Grandee and a Question of Genocide", Daily MailCS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Malcolm, Noel (30 March 1998a), "The Past Must Not be Prologue", TimeCS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Judah, Tim (14 May 1998), "Will There Be a War in Kosovo?", New York Review of Books, retrieved 26 July 2020CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Malcolm, Noel (16 July 1998c), "Kosovo's History", New York Review of Books, retrieved 14 December 2012CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Malcolm, Noel (9 June 1999a), "Independence for Kosovo", The New York Times, retrieved 14 December 2012CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Malcolm, Noel (4 May 1999b), "Response to Amos Perlmutter's Op-ed 'Who Will Run Kosovo'", Washington TimesCS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Malcolm, Noel (1 July 2001), "Milosevic Was Doomed by Press Freedom", The Sunday TelegraphCS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Malcolm, Noel (6 December 2007), "The New Montenegro: The State That Was Not a State", New York Review of Books, retrieved 30 January 2015CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Malcolm, Noel (26 February 2008), "Is Kosovo Serbia? We ask a historian", The Guardian, retrieved 14 December 2012CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)