Chapter

Henry Colin Gray Matthew 1941–1999

MICHAEL FREEDEN

in Proceedings of the British Academy, 138 Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, V

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780197263938
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734236 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197263938.003.0010

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Henry Colin Gray Matthew 1941–1999

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Henry Colin Gray Matthew, historian and editor, will forever be associated with two of the most grandiose and ambitious publishing projects to be conceived and executed in the United Kingdom in the 20th century: The Gladstone Diaries and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Like all previous biographers of Gladstone, Matthew addressed the Grand Old Man's mutation from Tory to enlightened Liberal. However, he did so in a wholly original manner, by uncovering the crises and agonised introspection that not only accompanied, but preceded, the many moves in that direction, as if primordial psychological forces had gripped Gladstone from which he had to seek relief in decisive political action. The triumph of the Gladstone diaries paved the way for another opportunity bathed in even more luminous national prestige. In 1992, Matthew was asked to take on a joint project of the British Academy and OUP: a complete revision of the Dictionary of National Biography (ultimately published as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). He brought not only a natural leadership but a fresh vision of the contents, scope, and contributors.

Keywords: historian; The Gladstone Diaries; National Biography; biography; obituary

Chapter.  8306 words. 

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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