Eighty years have passed since a young Cambridge don named Herbert Butterfield published in a slender volume entitled The Whig. The former Master of Peterhouse, Herbert Butterfield, has become something of a Less a book than a lengthy essay, The Whig Interpretation of History is a. Herbert Butterfield (). The Whig Interpretation of History [All footnotes are editorial; relevant online materials: Butterfield Papers at the Cambridge.

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Herbert Butterfield

Want to Read Currently Reading Read. A classic work in historiography. I began by thinking I would agree completely with him, in the middle thought I disagreed entirely, and by the end decided he is right about many things but is still missing some essential elements.

Butterfield found the Whig interpretation of history objectionable, because it warps the past to see it in terms of the issues of the present and attempts to squeeze the contending forces of the past into a form that reminds us of ourselves. It’s a fascinating discussion of how history is written by the winners– the protestant, liberal, democratic winners. Whilst Butterfield’s work clearly has laudable strengths, his style is dated the frequent reference to a historian as male didn’t fit with my inner feminist and on a few occasions he begins to make broad statements of the past, which I suppose is inevitable but seems slightly hypocritical regarding his condemnation of the Whigs.


Butterfield’s book is a seminal corrective of the bad habits of two generations of Whog historians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Butterfield seems to argue that we cannot judge historical events or figures because we have to understand them in their time, not our own.

InButterfield was awarded the University Member’s Prize for English Essay, writing on the subject of English novelist Charles Dickens and the way in which the author straddled the fields of history and literature. Skip to main content. Butterfield therefore raises qhig crucial issues with regard to historiography and the study of history. Jan 05, Usha Chilukuri rated it really liked it. The London Gazette Supplement.

Herbert Butterfield – Wikipedia

Sep 13, Jonathan rated it really liked it Hisotry The Whig interpretation of history is butterfild a general label applied to various historical interpretations. Account Options Sign in. Could have been half the length. Like much of Butterfield’s work elegant and teasing – you think its saying something important but you’re not quite sure what it actually is. To ask other readers questions about The Whig Interpretation of Historyplease sign up. Want to Read saving…. Back to 2 David Cannadine, G.

I have read ehrbert about that time in Cambodian history – understanding the time, people, circumstances – but I’m still willing to make a value judgment. Carey No preview available – Butterfield saw an alarming trend in histories being written at that time. The Underlying Assumption 3. Back to 11 According to J.


At the time however, its merits were enough to convince the Master of Peterhouse to elect Butterfield to a History Fellowship wjig Temperley and Paul Vellacott.

Books by Herbert Butterfield. Interesting, but majorly repetitive.

The Whig Interpretation of History by Herbert Butterfield

University of Chicago Press, 2nd ed. In off Whig Interpretation Butterfield had noted with satisfaction that historians had little reflected on the nature of their subject, and in Man on his Past he reassured readers that his enquiry was not about theory. Man on His Past: At the same time Butterfield was writing on science, he was addressing the subject of religion.

There have been reprints and revisions in,and Influenced Thomas Kuhn [2]. He also wrote about how simple pick-and-choose history misses the point, “Very strange bridges are used to make the passage from one state of things to another; we may lose sight of them in our surveys of general history, but their discovery is the glory of historical research.

This book reminded me of why I butterfeild history so much: