Robin Lane Fox

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This article is about the historian. For the anthropologist, see Robin Fox. For the theatrical agent, see Robin Fox (theatrical agent).
Robin Lane Fox
Robin James Lane Fox, FRSL.jpg
Robin Lane Fox at Financial Times 125th Anniversary Party, London, in June 2013
Born Robin James Lane Fox
(1946-10-05) 5 October 1946 (age 70)
Nationality British
Education Eton College
Alma mater Magdalen College, Oxford
Occupation Educator, author
Known for Historian of classical antiquity

Robin James Lane Fox, FRSL (born 5 October 1946[1]) is an English classicist, ancient historian and gardening writer known for his works on Alexander the Great.[2] Lane Fox is an Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford and Reader in Ancient History, University of Oxford. Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at New College from 1977 to 2014, he serves as Garden Master and as Extraordinary Lecturer in Ancient History for both New and Exeter Colleges. He has also taught Greek and Latin literature and early Islamic history.[3][4]

His major publications, for which he has won literary prizes including the James Tait Black Award,[5] the Duff Cooper Prize,[6] the Heinemann Award[7] and the Runciman Award,[8] include studies of Alexander the Great and Ancient Macedon, Late Antiquity, Christianity and Paganism,[9] the Bible and history, and the Greek Dark Ages. His most recent book in 2015 concerns the patristic author Augustine of Hippo.

Early life[edit]

Lane Fox was educated at Eton College, an all-boys public school near Windsor, Berkshire. He studied Literae Humaniores (Classics) at Magdalen College, Oxford.[1] Like his fellow ancient historians Paul Cartledge and Alan Cameron, and philosophers Terence Irwin and John McDowell,[10] he was an undergraduate student of G. E. M. de Ste. Croix.[1][11]

Academic career[edit]

Lane Fox was a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford from 1970 to 1973. From 1974 to 1976, he was a lecturer at Worcester College, Oxford. From 1976 to 1977, he was a research fellow in classical and Islamic history at Worcester.[1] In 1977, he was elected a fellow of New College, Oxford in succession to G.E.M. de Ste. Croix.[1][11] In 1990, he was appointed Reader in Ancient History within the Faculty of Classics.[12] In 2012, he retired and was appointed an Emeritus Fellow of New College.[13]

Important influences on his contributions to the study of ancient history include Louis Robert,[14] Peter Brown,[15] E.R. Dodds,[15] Timothy Barnes,[15] E.J. Bickerman,[16] Martin Litchfield West,[17] Walter Burkert,[17] and his long-standing New College colleague W.G. (George) Forrest.[18]

He was historical advisor to the film director Oliver Stone for the epic Alexander. His appearance as an extra in cavalry manoeuvres, in addition to his work as a historical consultant, was publicised at the time of the film's release.[19][20][21]

He wrote and presented Greek Myths: Tales of Travelling Heroes, which was first broadcast on BBC Four at 9:00pm on 15 November 2010.[22]

While primarily focused on ancient Greece, Fox has authored three books dealing with the history of Christianity, Pagans and Christians, The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible, and most recently a biography of Saint Augustine, Augustine: Conversions and Confessions. In the second book, Fox professes himself to be an atheist, although in the last book he expresses much admiration for St. Augustine.

Lane Fox is the gardening correspondent of the Financial Times and an outspoken opponent of garden gnomes.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Lane Fox is the father of Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho and of Henry Lane Fox. Martha is an entrepreneur and crossbench life peer who co-founded Henry is CEO of The Browser website.[24]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Alexander the Great (London: Allen Lane, 1973, and New York: E.P. Dutton, 1974) (awarded Duff Cooper Prize and James Tait Black Memorial Prize)
  • The Search for Alexander (London: Viking, 1981)
  • Pagans and Christians: In the Mediterranean World from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine (London: Viking, 1986; Penguin Books Ltd re-issue, 2006)
  • Better Gardening (London: R. & L., 1982)
  • Variations on a Garden (London: R. & L., 1986)
  • The Unauthorised Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible (1991; new edition, Penguin Books, 2006)
  • The Long March: Xenophon and the Ten Thousand (Yale University Press, 2004)
  • The Making of "Alexander": The Official Guide to the Epic Alexander Film (London: R. & L., 2004)
  • The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian (London: Allen Lane, 2005)
  • Page, Russell, The Education of a Gardener (New York Review of Books reprint, 2007), preface by Robin Lane Fox
  • Travelling Heroes: Greeks and Their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer (London: Allen Lane, 2008)
  • Thoughtful Gardening: Great Plants, Great Gardens, Great Gardeners (London: Particular Books, 2010)
  • Augustine: Conversions and Confessions (London: Allen Lane, 2015)