Tom Devine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sir Thomas Martin Devine Kt OBE FRHistS FRSE FBA (born 30 July 1945)[1] is a Scottish historian and author. John Lloyd, writing for the Financial Times in 2021, described him as "Scotland's most distinguished historian since Thomas Carlyle".[2]

Early and personal life[edit]

Thomas Martin Devine was born in Motherwell, Scotland. His four grandparents had migrated from Ireland in the late nineteenth century.[3] His father, Michael Gerard Devine, graduated with an MA from Glasgow University in the 1930s and had a long career as a teacher in Scottish secondary schools after serving in North Africa in World War II. His mother was Norah (née Martin).[4] Thomas Devine graduated from the University of Strathclyde in 1968 with First Class Honours in economic and social history.[1][5] He has five children with his wife, Lady Catherine, including Elizabeth, Noreen, Kathryna, Michael and John (deceased).[2][6]


In 1969, a few months after commencing doctoral research, Devine was hired at the University of Strathclyde,[7] where he was appointed assistant lecturer in history and eventually rose to head of the history department.[1] He was appointed professor of Scottish history in 1988, and later became dean of the faculty of arts and social sciences, and then deputy principal of the university from 1994 to 1998.[8] In 1991, Devine was awarded a DLitt (Doctor of Letters) by the university.[1]

In 1998, he moved to the University of Aberdeen and became the founding director of the newly established Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies.[8] He was also appointed to the Chair of the Glucksman Professorship of Irish and Scottish Studies.[9]

From 2006 to 2011, Devine was the Sir William Fraser Chair of Scottish History and Palaeography at the University of Edinburgh.[8] In 2008, he became the director of the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies.[8] He retired from Edinburgh in 2015 and became the Sir William Fraser Professor Emeritus of Scottish History and Palaeography. His retirement celebration was held in McEwan Hall.[8]

Devine was listed as one of the top 20 "most powerful and influential people in Scotland" by The Herald in 2015, which described him as "the nation's preeminent historian... who has reshaped the way the Scottish past is viewed".[10] He was ranked seventh most influential Catholic in Britain by The Tablet in 2015 and was described as the "intellectual heavyweight behind Scottish nationalism".[11]

Awards and honours[edit]

Devine was awarded the Senior Hume Brown Prize for the best first book in Scottish history (1976); the Saltire Society Prize for best book on Scottish History (1988-1991); and the Royal Society of Edinburgh Henry Duncan Prize and Lectureship (1993).[12]

In 1992, Devine was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) in 1993 and of the British Academy in 1994.[12] He was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2001 ('for excellence in the humanities or sciences based on first-class world standards') making him a member of all three national academies in the British Isles for which he is eligible.[13] He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and the Royal Society of Arts.[14] Devine was awarded the Royal Medal, Scotland's highest academic accolade, on the authority of Queen Elizabeth II in 2001. [15] He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2005 New Year Honours for services to Scottish history.[16] In 2012, he was awarded the RSE's inaugural Sir Walter Scott Prize for his contributions to Scottish history, and in 2013 won the RSE's Senior Prize for Public Engagement across all disciplines. Other accolades received during this period include the John Aikenhead Medal from the Institute of Contemporary Scotland for services to Education in Scotland (2006) and the Wallace Medal of the US-based American Scottish Foundation for distinguished contributions to building cultural ties between the US and Scotland (2016).[17]

Devine was knighted in the 2014 Birthday Honours for "services to the study of Scottish history".[18]

In July 2018, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the UK all-party parliamentary group on Archives and History of the House of Commons and House of Lords, the first historian from a Scottish university to receive the award.[19]

In 2020, Devine was nominated as an Honorary Member of the writer's association Scottish Pen 'rarely granted to those who have made a distinctive contribution to Scottish literature and whose work has advanced our literary tradition'. [20]

In 2021 he was elected a Member of the Academy of Europe (MAE). [21]


  • The Tobacco Lords: A Study of the Tobacco Merchants of Glasgow and their Trading Activities, c. 1740–90 (John Donald, 1975; reprinted Edinburgh University Press, 1992)[a]
  • Lairds and Improvement in the Scotland of the Enlightenment (editor and contributor, Scottish History Society, 1978)
  • A Scottish Firm in Virginia, 1767–1777, William Cunninghame and Co. (Scottish History Society, 1982)
  • Scotland and Ireland, 1600 to 1850 (joint editor and contributor, John Donald, 1983)
  • Farm Servants and Labour in Lowland Scotland, 1770–1914 (editor and contributor, John Donald, 1984, 1994)
  • People and Society in Scotland, Volume 1, 1760–1830 (co-editor and contributor, John Donald, 1988, 1994)
  • The Great Highland Famine: Hunger, Emigration and the Scottish Highlands in the Nineteenth Century, John Donald, 1988, reprinted 1995, 2008, 2020)[b]
  • Improvement and Enlightenment (editor and contributor, John Donald, 1989)
  • Conflict and Stability in Scottish Society, 1700–1850 (editor and contributor, John Donald, 1990)
  • Irish Immigrants and Scottish Society in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century (editor and contributor, 1991)
  • Scottish Emigration and Scottish Society (editor and contributor, John Donald, 19xx)
  • Clanship to Crofters War: The Social Transformation of the Scottish Highlands (1994; Reprinted 2013, Manchester University Press)
  • Scottish Elites (editor and contributor, 1994)
  • Industry, Business and Society in Scotland since 1700 (co-editor and contributor, 1994)
  • The Transformation of Rural Scotland: Social Change and the Agrarian Economy, 1660–1815 (Edinburgh University Press, 1994, reprinted 1998)
  • St Mary's Hamilton: A Social History, 1646 – 1996 (editor, John Donald, 1995)
  • Exploring the Scottish Past (John Donald, 1995)
  • Scotland in the Twentieth Century (co-editor and contributor, Edinburgh University Press, 1996)
  • Eighteenth-century Scotland (co-editor and contributor, Tuckwell Press, 1998)
  • Celebrating Columba: Irish-Scottish Connections, 597–1997 (co-editor, 1999)
  • The Scottish Nation: 1700–2000 (Penguin, 1999). Multiple reprints and new editions, the most recent being The Scottish Nation: A Modern History.[22]
  • Scotland's Shame?: Bigotry and Sectarianism in Modern Scotland (editor and contributor, Mainstream Publishing, 2000)
  • Being Scottish: Personal Reflections on Scottish Identity Today (2002, co-editor and contributor, Edinburgh University Press)
  • Scotland's Empire and the Shaping of the Americas, 1600–1815 (Smithsonian Institution Books, USA, 2003)
  • Scotland's Empire, 1600–1815 (Penguin Books, 2003, reprinted 2012).[c]
  • The Transformation of Scotland; The Economy since 1700 (co-editor and contributor with Clive Lee and George Peden, Edinburgh University Press, 2005)
  • Clearance and Improvement: Land, Power and People in Scotland 1700–1900 (John Donald, 2006, reprinted 2012)
  • The Scottish Nation 1700 to 2007 (revised editions, Penguin, 2006, 2012). [d]
  • Scotland and the Union 1707 to 2007 (editor and contributor, Edinburgh University Press, 2008)
  • Scotland and Poland: Historical Connections (joint editor, John Donald, 2011)
  • To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland's Global Diaspora, 1750–2010 (Allen Lane and Penguin Books, 2011, paperback, 2012). [e]
  • Scotland and the British Empire (joint editor and contributor, 2011, Oxford University Press)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History, 1500–2010 (joint editor and contributor, 2012, Oxford University Press)
  • The Scotland Trilogy (2012, Penguin)
  • Recovering Scotland's Slavery Past: The Caribbean Connection (editor and contributor, Edinburgh University Press, 2015).[f]
  • Independence or Union: Scotland's Past and Scotland's Present (Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 2016)[g]
  • The Scottish Experience in Asia c. 1700 to the Present: Sojourners and Settlers (joint editor and contributor, Cambridge Imperial and Colonial Series, Palgrave and Macmillan, 2016)
  • Scotland and the British Empire (joint editor and contributor, Oxford University Press, 2016)
  • Tea and Empire: James Taylor in Victorian Ceylon (joint author, Manchester University Press, 2017)[h]
  • New Scots: Scotland's Immigrant Communities since 1945 (joint editor and contributor, Edinburgh University Press, 2018)
  • The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed 1600-1900 (Allen Lane: The Penguin Press, 2018, pbk 2019) [i]


  1. ^ Winner of the Senior Hume Brown Prize for best first book in Scottish history
  2. ^ Winner of the Saltire Society Prize for best book in Scottish history 1989
  3. ^ Shortlisted for Saltire History Book of the Year Prize 2004;one of Robin Dunbar's Favourite 5 books.The List.23 March 2021
  4. ^ New Statesman and The Herald, Book of the Year, 2012
  5. ^ Book of the Year: The Spectator, New Statesman, Scotland on Sunday, 2011; Book of the Week: The Guardian 2011
  6. ^ Book of the Year 2015, The Herald
  7. ^ Book of the Year 2016, Scottish Review of Books
  8. ^ Shortlisted as Research Book of the Year 2018 Saltire Society
  9. ^ Book of the Year 2018 The Herald,Telegraph and The Times


  1. ^ a b c d "Sir Tom Devine". University of Otago: Centre for Global Migrations. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b Lloyd, John (14 May 2021). "Sir Tom Devine: 'I've always thought England would destroy the Union'". Financial Times.
  3. ^ McCall, Chris (10 January 2018). "Sir Tom Devine: The historian telling Scotland's story". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 17 April 2018.
  4. ^ "The SRB Interview: Tom Devine". Scottish Review of Books. 12 August 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Helping to shape the future of your newspaper". The Scotsman. 26 January 2007. Retrieved 17 April 2018.[dead link]
  6. ^ "Sir Tom Devine is the first Scots historian to win parliamentary award". The Scotsman. 19 July 2018.
  7. ^ Taylor, Alan (14 June 2014). "Sir Tom Devine on past highs, present lows and future plans". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Historian retires to write new chapter". Edinburgh Evening News. 14 May 2014. Archived from the original on 3 April 2019. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Phase 1 (2000-05) Staff | Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies | The University of Aberdeen". University of Aberdeen. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  10. ^ "Scottish Power 100: The 100 Most Powerful and Influential People in Scotland", The Herald, 30 November 2015.
  11. ^ Lamb, Christopher (14 May 2015). "Britain's most influential Catholics revealed on The Tablet's Top 100 list". The Tablet.
  12. ^ a b "Prizes | Research | School of History, Classics and Archaeology | University of Edinburgh". University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  13. ^ "Prof Sir Tom Devine". University of Edinburgh: School of History, Classics and Archaeology. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Fellows - D" (PDF). Royal Historical Society. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Scottish historian Tom Devine to retire". The Scotsman. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  16. ^ "New Year Honours". Times Higher Education. 7 January 2005. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Professor Tom Devine awarded Royal Society prize" (Press release). University of Edinburgh. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  18. ^ Herald 14 June 2014
  19. ^ "Sir Tom Devine is the first Scots historian to win this parliamentary award". The Scotsman. 19 July 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  20. ^ "Sir Tom Devine granted honorary membership of Scottish PEN". Scottish PEN. 12 November 2020. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  21. ^ "Academy of Europe: 2021 Elected members". Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  22. ^ Scottish Bestsellers List 18 August 2000. Scottish Book Marketing Group