William St Clair

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William St Clair (born 1937) FBA, FRSL, is a British historian, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and author.


William St Clair received his education at Kilsyth Academy, Comely Park School, Falkirk, Edinburgh Academy, and St John's College, Oxford.

William St Clair started his academic career as Fellow of Royal Society of Literature in 1973[1] He was Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 1981–82. In 1985 he became fellow of Huntington Library, California. Since 1992 he is fellow of British Academy, and was Member of Council from 1996 to 2000. From 1992 to 1996 he was also fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University. In the year 1998–99 he was Visiting Fellow Commoner, Trinity College, Cambridge University. From 1999 to 2006 he was fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge University, 1999–2006[2] Since 2005 he is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Since 2008 he is also Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for History and Economics, Cambridge and Harvard.

William St Clair is also chairman of Open Book Publishers, an academic publisher of peer-reviewed monographs in the humanities and social sciences since 2008.[3] Since 2008 he is also member of the Enterprise Management Committee, Re Enlightenment Project,[4] main partners New York University, New York Public Library, and University of Cambridge.


His research interests lie, in large part, in the history of books and reading, ancient Greece and biography. His Reading Nation in the Romantic Period notably, received praise,[5] and was reviewed in over fifty scholarly journals;[6] it is frequently cited by other academics.[7] He is a founding member of Open Book Publishers, based in Cambridge (UK), and an active supporter of the Open Access movement.

Relating to the history of books and reading[edit]

  • The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). The book centres on the Romantic period in the English-speaking world, but ranges across the whole print era, to reach conclusions about the forces that determined how ideas were carried, through print, into wider society. It provides an investigation of information on prices, print runs, intellectual property, and readerships gathered from over fifty publishing and printing archives.[8]
  • The Political Economy of Reading, revised edition, John Coffin Memorial Lecture in the History of the Book (University of London: School of Advanced Study, 2005).
  • 'Publishing, Authorship, and Reading' in The Cambridge Companion to Fiction of the Romantic Period (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
  • 'Following up The Reading Nation' in The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume VI, 1830–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
  • 'Metaphors of Intellectual Property' in Privilege and Property. Essays on the History of Copyright, eds. Lionel Bently, Ronan Deazley & Martin Kretschmer (Open Book Publishers, 2010).
  • A Gentleman of Literary Eminence': A Review Essay, with Roger Paulin & Elinor Shaffer (University of London: School of Advanced Study, 2008).

Relating to the Parthenon and Elgin Marbles[edit]

  • Lord Elgin and the Marbles (London: Oxford University Press, 1967; 3rd Revised Edition, 1998). Translated into Italian, French and Greek.
  • 'The Elgin Marbles: Questions of Authenticity and Accountability', International Journal of Cultural Property, 2 (1999).
  • 'The Parthenon in 1687: New Sources' with Robert Picken, in The Parthenon and its Sculpture, ed. Michael Cosmopoulos (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
  • 'Imperial Appropriations of the Parthenon', in Imperialism, Art and Restitution, ed. John Henry Merryman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006). Chinese translation published by Tongji University Press, 2009.

History and biography[edit]

  • That Greece Might Still Be Free. The Philhellenes in the War of Independence (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1972). Awarded Heinemann prize by Royal Society of Literature. New edition with additional material, extra illustrations, an updated bibliography, and a New Introduction by Roderick Beaton (Open Book, 2008).[9] An account of the philhellenes - or 'lovers of Greece' - who volunteered to fight for the Greek cause during the War of Independence (1821), against the rule of the Ottoman Turks.
  • Adventures of a Younger Son by Edward John Trelawny, with an Introduction by William St. Clair (London: Oxford University Press,1974).
  • Trelawny, the Incurable Romancer (London: J. Murray, 1977).
  • The Godwins and the Shelleys, The Biography of a Family (London: Faber and Faber and New York: Norton, 1989). Awarded Time-Life prize and Macmillan Silver Pen for an outstanding work of British non-fiction.
  • Mapping Lives: The Uses of Biography, eds. Peter France & William St Clair (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy 2002). Essays on the nature of biography commissioned as part of the centenary celebrations of the British Academy. William St. Clair's essay is 'The Biographer as Archaeologist.'
  • The Grand Slave Emporium: Cape Coast Castle and the British Slave Trade (London: Profile, 2006). Published in the U.S. as The Door of No Return, The History of Cape Coast Castle and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New York, N.Y.: Bluebridge, 2007). Based on a huge archive of original documents previously scarcely explored.

Conduct literature[edit]

  • Conduct Literature for Women, 1500–1640, eds. William St Clair & Irmgard Maassen (6 Volumes) (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2000).
  • Conduct Literature for Women, 1640–1710, eds. William St Clair & Irmgard Maassen (6 Volumes) (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2002).


As part of work in the Treasury, William St Clair authored:

  • Policy Evaluation: A Guide for Managers (HMSO, 1988). Translated, with adaptations, into several languages including, French, Arabic and Turkish.
  • Executive Agencies: A Guide to Setting Targets and Judging Performance (HMSO, 1992).

British Civil Service[edit]

1960. Joined Admiralty. Spent time at sea in many types of vessel. Private Secretary to successive Civil Lords of the Admiralty in Conservative and Labour Governments.

1966. Transferred to Ministry of Defence. Secretary to the review of British defence arrangements at the end of empire. Visited military operations in Aden, South Arabia, Malaya, Borneo, and at sea. Visited virtually all British defence establishments.

1966–1969. First Secretary, Foreign Office, later Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on loan from Ministry of Defence. Desk officer for the Gibraltar dispute, later for East West trade and the strategic embargo. Served in Paris Embassy.

1969. Transferred to Treasury. Appointments concerned with public expenditure and international finance. Short appointment in Brussels as part of the team preparing for British entry to EEC.

1974. Promoted to Assistant Secretary. Appointed Head of Prices Division at the time of the inflationary surge, with responsibility for devising and operating the price and dividend controls associated with prices and incomes policy.

1978. Head of Industrial Policy Division. Helped to devise and operate the Callaghan/Healey industrial policy aimed at reviving British competitiveness in manufacturing. Treasury member of Monopolies and Mergers Panel, and of several industrial National Economic Development Committees.

1979. Head of Overseas Aid Division.

1982. Head of Superannuation Division. Responsible for the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme and for Treasury supervision of the other public service pension schemes.

1985. Deputy Head of Cabinet Office/Treasury Joint Management Unit, charged with improving policy analysis and evaluation across government.

1985. Attended Top Management Programme for those entering the highest grades.

1988. Grade 4. In charge of the Treasury's consultancy forces, including inspectors, accountants, and operational researchers, and for deploying them across government

1990. Grade 3 Under-secretary with responsibility for Treasury control of the Civil Service.

1991–1998. Consultant to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and European Union (EU). Assignments with British public bodies and overseas governments, advising mainly on strategic planning, resource allocation and budgeting, performance measurement, and evaluation.[10]


External links[edit]