[Milton-L] concerning Christopher Hill

Alan Rudrum rudrum at shaw.ca
Wed Nov 21 21:30:27 EST 2007

I intend to respond to William Simpson's letter; but first there are 
three urgent obligations to fulfill, so cannot do so until some way into 
next week.  I have not read any of the ensuing correspondence, and shall 
not do so before responding. 

Alan Rudrum

William Simpson wrote:
>     Last Friday, 11-16-07, Alan Rudrum wrote in these pages,
>     "Christopher Hill as an historian was rather like Bush and Blair as
> politicians. . . .
>     That is, he was wont to massage the evidence to fit his political
> biases; and his book
>     on Milton and the Bible is a mess.  I understand that he was almost
> certainly a Soviet
>     agent; the English at that period produced quite a colorful group of
> traitors."
>     Those sentences contain rancid trash and innuendo thrown at a quite
> gifted teacher and colleague of many of us.  I would expect to hear them on
> the Rush Limbaugh radio show, but they are insulting to anyone who reads,
> discusses and tries to measure the the writings of Milton and their public
> effect.
>     Christopher Hill was a sharply critical Marxist, a member of the
> Communist Party Historians Group, and resigned from the Party after the
> Soviet invasion of Hungary, 1956.  He served in the British army and
> intelligence service for five years during World War II, and lived in the
> Soviet Union for one year.  Like E. J. Hobsbawm he was perhaps the strongest
> of the British radical historians who pioneered in working class history,
> but unlike most other radical academics he was elected Master of Balliol
> College from 1965-1978.  I have never read any allegation or heard even an
> inferential hint that he was a Soviet spy or a traitor to his country; the
> people at Oxford University seem not have to regarded him with any such
> suspicion.
>     Those of us who read material about the 17th Century can compare and
> evaluate his 25 or so books, and the material in Past and Present, in
> relation to Professor Rudrum's writings.  I concur that Hill's book on the
> Milton and the Bible is not his best work.  But concerning his morals and
> politics, Mr. Rudrum should now put up some persuasive evidence, or shut up:
> whence comes your understanding that he was almost certainly a Soviet agent?
> How is Hill the historian like Bush the politician?
>     Bill Simpson
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