He studied as an undergraduate at Keble College, Oxford, and subsequently at Keele University, where he was awarded a PhD in History. He was first employed by the Politics Department at Queen's University Belfast in 1990 and became a professor in 1999. In 2011 he took up an appointment at the University of St Andrews but five years later returned as pro-vice chancellor for internationalisation and engagement.
His father, Donald English (1930–1998), was a prominent Methodist preacher.
Richard English is professor of politics at Queen's University Belfast, where he is also distinguished professorial fellow in the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, and the university's pro-vice-chancellor for internationalization and engagement. Between 2011 and 2016 he was Wardlaw Professor of Politics in the School of International Relations, and director of the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV), at the University of St Andrews. He is the author of eight books, including the award-winning studies Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (2003) and Irish Freedom: The History of Nationalism in Ireland (2006). His most recent book, Does Terrorism Work? A History, was published in 2016 by Oxford University Press. He is also the co-editor/editor of a further six books and has published more than fifty journal articles and book chapters. He is a frequent media commentator on terrorism and political violence, and on Irish politics and history, including work for the BBC, CNN, ITN, SKY NEWS, NPR, RTE, the Irish Times, the Times Literary Supplement, Newsweek, the Guardian, and the Financial Times. He is a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA), a Member of the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE), a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS), an Honorary Fellow of Keble College Oxford, and an honorary professor at the University of St Andrews. In 2018 he was awarded a CBE for services to the understanding of modern-day terrorism and political history. He has delivered invited lectures about his research in more than twenty countries.
Most of his research has been centred on the Irish Republican movement and particularly the history of the Irish Republican Army. His first book, based on his doctoral thesis, concerned the history of post Irish Civil War Republican politics and was titled Radicals and the Republic, Socialist Republicanism in the Irish Free State (1994). His next work was a biography of 1920s IRA veteran Ernie O'Malley, entitled Ernie O'Malley, IRA Intellectual which was published in 1998.
Since then, he has written Armed Struggle - The History of the IRA (2003). This book, predominantly a history of the modern Provisional IRA, won the politics book of the year award from the Political Studies Association and was shortlisted for the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize. After this, he wrote a broader history of Irish nationalism, Irish Freedom, The History of Nationalism in Ireland (2006), which won the Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize in 2007.
He has also co-edited two volumes: The State: Historical and Political Dimensions (1999, with Charles Townshend); and Rethinking British Decline (1999, with Michael Kenny).
He is a frequent media commentator on terrorism and Irish politics and history, including work for the BBC, NPR, the Times Literary Supplement, Newsweek, and the Financial Times.
In 2009, he published a study of political violence, titled Terrorism: How to Respond.
In 2016, he contributed to the documentary film Bobby Sands: 66 Days.
Honours and awards
- "New Year's Honours 2018" (PDF). Gov.uk. Government Digital Service. 29 December 2017. p. 14. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- Richard English's page at Queen's University Belfast
- Oxford University Press: Terrorism: Richard English
- The 'T' word: a review of Richard English's terrorism: how to respond (Oxford University Press 2009) - DORAS - DCU
- "Professor Richard Ludlow English FRSE - The Royal Society of Edinburgh". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
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