Robert Norman William Blake 1916–2003

Richard Shannon

in Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 153 Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, VII

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780197264348
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734250 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Robert Norman William Blake 1916–2003

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Robert Norman William Blake (1916–2003), a Fellow of the British Academy, had published admired revisionist studies of the soldier Lord Haig (1952) and the politician Andrew Bonar Law (1955), but unquestionably it was the brilliant success of his biography of Benjamin Disraeli in 1966 that stimulated support for his election to the Academy. He was born in the Manor House, Brundall, on the Yare, Norfolk, a little outside Norwich, on December 23, 1916 to William Joseph Blake and Norah Lindley. In 1935, Blake went to Magdalen College, Oxford, with a view to preparing for a legal career. He read ‘Modern Greats’, philosophy, politics, and economics. Blake was eloquent on the depressing peculiarities of World War II. He related in a manuscript fragment, ‘Memories of Christ Church’, that his two closest friends in the Senior Common Room were Hugh Trevor-Roper and Charles Stuart. In his biography of Disraeli, Blake made the British prime minister much less convincing as a heroic legend, but made him much more interesting as a man.

Keywords: Robert Blake; British Academy; Benjamin Disraeli; Hugh Trevor-Roper; Charles Stuart; politics; Lord Haig; Andrew Bonar Law; World War II; biography

Chapter.  20552 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Theory, Methods, and Historiography

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