Christopher Hill

Christopher Hill books and biography


Christopher Hill

Christopher Hill
Christopher Hill

John Edward Christopher Hill (February 6, 1912–February 23, 2003) was an English Marxist historian and the author of many history textbooks.

Born in York, Christopher Hill entered Balliol College, Oxford in 1931. In 1932 he was awarded the Lothian Prize, and won a first-class honours degree and All Souls Prize Fellowship two years later. Later at Balliol, Hill became a Marxist and joined the Communist Party. He spent one year in the Soviet Union in 1935.

After coming back from Moscow, he returned to Balliol as a fellow and tutor of modern history. In 1940 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. Later in the War he also joined the intelligence corps. Around this time, Hill started to publish his articles and reviews about 17th century English history. He also took part in a debate among many Marxist historians in 1940.

In 1946, Hill and many other Marxist historians formed the Communist Party Historians Group. However, Hill soon became discontent with the lack of democracy in the Communist Party. He left the party in 1956, after one of his reports was rejected.

After 1957, Hill's career ascended to new heights. His studies on 17th century English history were widely acknowledged and recognised. In 1965, Hill was elected the master of Balliol. He held the post from 1965 to 1978, when he retired (he was replaced by Anthony Kenny). Among those of his students at Balliol who went on to develop our understanding of the English Revolution was Brian Manning.

Many of Hill's most notable studies focused on 17th century English history. His books include Economic Problems of the Church (1955), Puritanism And Revolution (1958), Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution (1965 and revised in 1996), The Century of Revolution (1961), AntiChrist In 17th-century England (1971), The World Turned Upside Down (1972) and many others.

Hill died on February 23, 2003, 18 days after his 91st birthday. He was married and had three children.

Selected works

  • The English Revolution, 1640 (1940, 3rd ed. 1955), ISBN 0-85315-044-3 (1987 reprint) (On-line text at
  • Lenin and the Russian Revolution (1947), ISBN 0-14-013535-9 (1993 reprint)
  • Economic Problems of the Church: From Archbishop Whitgift to the Long Parliament (1956), ISBN 0-586-03528-1 (1971 reprint)
  • Puritanism and Revolution: Studies in Interpretation of the English Revolution of the 17th Century (1958), ISBN 0-7126-6722-9 (2001 reprint)
  • The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714 (1961, 2nd. ed. 1980), ISBN 0-17-712002-9
  • Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England (1964), ISBN 0-7126-6816-0 (2003 reprint)
  • Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution (1965, rev. 1997), ISBN 0-19-820668-2
  • Reformation to Industrial Revolution: A Social and Economic History of Britain, 1530-1780 (1967, rev. ed. 1969), ISBN 0-14-020897-6
  • God's Englishman: Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution (1970), ISBN 0-297-00043-8
  • Antichrist in Seventeenth-Century England (1971, rev. ed. 1990), ISBN 0-86091-997-8
  • The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution (1972), ISBN 0-85117-025-0
  • Change and Continuity in Seventheenth-Century England (1974, rev. ed. 1991), ISBN 0-300-05044-5
  • Milton and the English Revolution (1977), ISBN 0-571-10198-4
  • The Experience of Defeat: Milton and Some Contemporaries (1984), ISBN 0-571-13237-5
  • The Collected Essays of Christopher Hill (3 vols.)
    1. Writing and Revolution in 17th Century England (1985), ISBN 0-7108-0565-9
    2. Religion and Politics in 17th Century England (1986), ISBN 0-7108-0507-1
    3. People and Ideas in 17th Century England (1986), ISBN 0-7108-0512-8
  • A Turbulent, Seditious, and Factious People: John Bunyan and His Church, 1628-1688 (1988), ISBN 0-19-812818-5
  • A Nation of Change and Novelty: Radical Politics, Religion and Literature in Seventeenth-Century England (1990), ISBN 0-415-04833-8
  • The English Bible and the Seventeenth-Century Revolution (1993), ISBN 0-7139-9078-3


  • Adamo, Pietro "Christopher Hill e la rivoluzione inglese: itinerario di uno storico" pages 129-158 from Societá e Storia, Volume 13, 1990.
  • Clark, J.C.D. Revolution and Rebellion: State and Society in England in the Seventheeth and Eighteenth Centuries, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
  • Davis, J.C. Myth and History: The Ranters and the Historians, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
  • Eley, Geoff and Hunt, William (editors) Reviving the English Revolution: Reflections and Elaborations on the Work of Christopher Hill, London: verso, 1988.
  • Fulbrook, Mary "The English Revolution and the Revisionist Revolt" pages 249-264 from Social History, Volume 7, 1982.
  • Hexter, J.H. "The Burden of Proof", Times Literary Supplement, October 24, 1975.
  • Hobsbawm, Eric "`The Historians Group' of the Communist Party" from Rebels and Their Causes: Essays in Honor of A.L. Morton, edited by Maurice Cornforth, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1978.
  • Kaye, Harvey The British Marxist Historians: An Introductory Analysis, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1984.
  • Morrill, John "Christopher Hill" pages 28-29 from History Today Volume 53, Issue # 6, June 2003.
  • Pennington, Donald & Thomas, Keith (editors) Puritans and Revolutionaries, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978.
  • Richardson, R.C. The Debate on the English Revolution Revisited, London: Methuen, 1977.
  • Samuel, Raphael "British Marxist Historians, 1880-1980" pages 21-96 from New Left Review, Volume 120, March-April 1980.
  • Schwarz, Bill "`The People' in History: The Communist Party Historians' Group, 1946-56" from Making Histories: Studies in History-Writing and Politics, edited by Richard Johnson, London: Hutchinson, 1982.
  • Underdown, David "Radicals in Defeat", New York Review of Books, March 28, 1985.

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