Robin Lane Fox

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Robin Lane Fox

Robin Lane Fox at Financial Times 125th Anniversary Party, London, in June 2013
Robin James Lane Fox

(1946-10-05) 5 October 1946 (age 77)
EducationEton College
Alma materMagdalen College, Oxford
Occupation(s)Educator, author
Known forHistorian 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 College and Exeter College. 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, the Bible and history, and the Greek Dark Ages. In addition, he is the gardening correspondent of the Financial Times.

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,[9] he was an undergraduate student of G. E. M. de Ste. Croix.[1][2]

Academic career[edit]

Lane Fox was a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, between 1970-73. Between 1974-76, he was a lecturer at Worcester College, Oxford. From 1976-77, 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][2] In 1990, he was appointed Reader in Ancient History within the Faculty of Classics.[10] In 2012, he retired and was appointed an Emeritus Fellow of New College.[11] Important influences on his contributions to the study of ancient history include Louis Robert,[12] Peter Brown,[13] E. R. Dodds,[13] Timothy Barnes,[13] E. J. Bickerman,[14] Martin Litchfield West,[15] Walter Burkert,[15] and his long-standing New College colleague W. G. (George) Forrest.[16]

His 1973 book Alexander the Great was awarded the Duff Cooper Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Due to the success of the book, Lane Fox 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.[17][18][19] He wrote and presented Greek Myths: Tales of Travelling Heroes, which was first broadcast on BBC Four in November 2010.[20]

While primarily focused on ancient Greece, Fox has written three books dealing with the history of Christianity, Pagans and Christians, The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible, and a biography of Saint Augustine, Augustine: Conversions and Confessions,[21] which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize. In the second book, Fox professes himself to be a non-believer, although in the last book he expresses much admiration for St. Augustine

Personal life[edit]

Lane Fox, an atheist, is the father of Martha Lane Fox and Henry Lane Fox. Martha is an entrepreneur and crossbench life peer who co-founded Henry is CEO of a website, The Browser.[22][23]

As gardening correspondent of the Financial Times, Lane Fox is an outspoken opponent of garden gnomes.[24]

List of publications[edit]

  • Alexander the Great, Allen Lane, 1974. ISBN 978-0-71390-500-7; US title: The Search for Alexander, Little, Brown & Co., 1980. ISBN 978-0-31629-108-8 (reprinted by the Folio Society with revisions & corrections, 1997)
  • Variations on a Garden, Macmillan, 1974. ISBN 978-0-33317-099-1 (reprinted by R. & L., 1986) ISBN 978-0-95113-920-2
  • Better Gardening, R. & L., 1982. ISBN 978-0-70991-629-1
  • V. Sackville-West. The Illustrated Garden Book: A New Anthology, Michael Joseph, 1986. ISBN 978-0-71812-660-5
  • Pagans and Christians, Viking, 1986. ISBN 978-0-67080-848-9 (reprinted by the Folio Society in 3 vols., 2010)
  • The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible, Viking, 1991. ISBN 978-0-67082-412-0
  • The Long March: Xenophon and the Ten Thousand, Yale University Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0-30010-403-5 (editor)
  • The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian, Allen Lane, 2005. ISBN 978-0-71399-853-5 (reprinted by the Folio Society)
  • Travelling Heroes: Greeks and Their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer, Allen Lane, 2008. ISBN 978-0-71399-980-8
  • Thoughtful Gardening: Great Plants, Great Gardens, Great Gardeners, Particular Books, 2010. ISBN 978-1-84614-289-5
  • Brill's Companion to Ancient Macedon: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Macedon, 650 BC-300 AD, Brill, 2011. ISBN 978-9-00420-650-2 (editor)
  • Augustine: Conversions and Confessions, Allen Lane, 2015. ISBN 978-1-84614-400-4
  • The Invention of Medicine: From Homer to Hippocrates, Basic Books, 2020. ISBN 978-0-46509-344-1
  • Homer and his Iliad, Allen Lane, 2023. ISBN 978-0-24152-451-0


  1. ^ a b c d e "Robin Lane Fox profile at Debrett's People of Today".
  2. ^ a b c "Travelling Heroes, By Robin Lane Fox". The Independent. 31 October 2008.
  3. ^ "Lane Fox | New College Oxford". Archived from the original on 9 April 2011.
  4. ^ "Classics - Exeter College". Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Lane Fox profile at the Tait Black website". Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  6. ^ Press, Orphans. "Past Winners of The Duff Cooper Prize - The Duff Cooper Prize". Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Lane Fox profile". Folio Society. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  8. ^ "Profile of Lane Fox at the Runciman Award winners webpage of the Anglo-Hellenic League" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 November 2013.
  9. ^ Ste Croix, The Origins of the Peloponnesian War, xii
  10. ^ "Mr Robin J. Lane Fox". Faculty of Classics. University of Oxford. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Emeritus, Honorary and Wykeham Fellows". New College. University of Oxford. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  12. ^ Pagans and Christians, p. 10
  13. ^ a b c Pagans and Christians, p. 8
  14. ^ The Unauthorized Version, p. 9
  15. ^ a b Travelling Heroes, xiii
  16. ^ Travelling Heroes, p. xiv
  17. ^ "Into Battle With Alexander", The Times, 4 May 2004.
  18. ^ "Why the lowly shepherd is the one who gets to hear the angels", 20 December 2011'
  19. ^ "Profile".
  20. ^ "BBC Four - Greek Myths: Tales of Travelling Heroes". BBC.
  21. ^ Briefly reviewed in the February 22, 2016 issue of The New Yorker, p.77.
  22. ^ The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible (1991) p.7; ISBN 978-0-14-102296-3
  23. ^ "Henry Lane Fox launches website venture 'The Browser'". 13 August 2011.
  24. ^ "Gnomes spark row over fairies at Chelsea". The Independent. 24 May 2006.