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Sir Keith Thomas

Distinguished Fellow since 2001
Keith Thomas is preparing a book on notions of civility and barbarism in early modern England and putting together his collected essays. He has published review articles in the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, and the TLS, served on various editorial boards and continued as chairman of the judges of the Wolfson History Prize and a member of the Leverhulme Trust’s Advisory Panel. He chairs the Trustees of the Council for the Defence of British Universities.
Sir Keith Thomas


  • Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford (from 1988 to 2000)
  • President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford (from 1986 to 2000)
  • Professor of Modern History (1986); Reader (1978-85), Fellow (and Tutor from 1957 to 1985) of St John’s College, Oxford (from 1957 to 1986)
  • Examination Fellow, All Souls College (from 1955 to 1957)
  • Senior Scholar, St Antony’s College, Oxford (1955)
  • Brackenbury Scholar, Balliol College, Oxford (from 1952 to 1955)

Research interests

  • Social and cultural history of early modern England


  • The Wolfson History Prize 1972-2012: An Informal History (London: Wolfson Foundation, 2012).
  • The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfilment in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
  • Changing Conceptions of National Biography: The Oxford DNB in Historical Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
  • (ed.), The Oxford Book of Work (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).
  • Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England, 1500-1800 (London: Allen Lane, 1983).
  • (ed. with Donald Pennington), Puritans and Revolutionaries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978).
  • Religion and the Decline of Magic (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971).

Other professional memberships and roles

  • Honorary Vice-President, Royal Historical Society (from 2001)
  • Chairman, Advisory Council, Warburg Institute (from 2000 to 2008)
  • Trustee, British Museum (from 1999 to 2008)
  • Chairman, British Library Advisory Committee for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (from 1997 to 2002)
  • President, British Academy (from 1993 to 1997)
  • Member, Academia Europaea (from 1993)
  • Trustee, National Gallery (from 1991 to 1998)
  • Member, Reviewing Committee on Export of Works of Art (from 1989 to 1992)
  • Member, ESRC (from 1985 to 1990)
  • Delegate (1980-2000) and Chairman of Finance Committee (1988-2000), Oxford University Press
  • Foreign Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Honorary Member, Japan Academy
  • Fellow, Learned Society of Wales
  • Honorary DLitt: Columbia, Kent, Wales, Hull, Leicester, London, Sussex, Warwick
  • Honorary LittD: Sheffield, Cambridge
  • Honorary LLD: Williams, Oglethorpe
  • Honorary PhD: Uppsala
  • Honorary Fellow of Balliol, Corpus Christi, and St John’s Colleges, Oxford; University of Cardiff; and Warburg Institute, University of London