[Milton-L] Christopher Hill once again - a brief note

Alan Rudrum alanrudrum at gmail.com
Tue Apr 14 00:24:11 EDT 2009


Some members of the list will recall the *furor *that erupted when I sent an
e-mail suggesting that Christopher Hill, former Master of Balliol College
Oxford, was "was wont to massage the evidence to fit his political biases;
.... I understand that he was almost certainly a Soviet agent."

This resulted in some disapprobation from Bill Simpson and others, to which
I posted a long reply.  I am grateful to Jameela Ismael (predictably kind),
to John Leonard, who wrote that these allegations did not originate with me,
to Harold Skulsky, and to Nicholas von Maltzahn, who backed my view of
Hill's scholarly methods, and cited two reviews. Of these I remembered Blair
Worden's, but not Trevor-Roper's, so was grateful for the reference. Some of
this correspondence has disappeared from my computer, but I believe another
objector used some such word as "facile."  Having read von Maltzahn's work
and heard him at more than one conference, most recently in the IAUPE
conference in Lund, I think that is the last word that should be applied to
him.

After I had followed the evidence in the website mentioned by John Leonard,
Cronaca March 5, 2003, and had read all the obtainable documentation
mentioned in it, and a good deal besides, it seemed to me that the evidence
for Hill's having been a Soviet agent was strong.

I have sent the following to the Research Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography:

1.  My response to Bill Simpson, including my review of Hill's book on the
Bible
2.  My correspondence with the historian Anthony Glees, who wrote after
Hill's death that Hill had admitted that he had indeed been a Soviet agent
3.   The full text of Cronaca March 5, 2003.
4.   A lecture I gave a few weeks ago, "British Intelligence and the strange
case of the Master of Balliol"

And I mentioned that to what was said of Hill's scholarly practices in the
current ODNB Life, there should be added the chapter on Hill in J.H.
Hexter's book *On Historians* - a devastating but accurate account, written
in Hill's lifetime and taking account of Hill's replies.

Alan Rudrum
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