Professor Jon Parry
I am a historian of British politics and political ideas in the nineteenth century. I taught in the Faculty from 1992 until I retired in 2023. The main aim of my work has been to understand better how the British political class thought about the task of governing the country, and defending its international interests, at a time of great change.
My first three books, and a number of subsequent articles, investigated the governing strategies of British Liberalism, which seemed to me not to have been properly understood by those who prioritise a few abstract thinkers and their views on economic policy in particular. I also developed an interest in Conservatism, especially as articulated by Benjamin Disraeli, on whom I have written a short book and two articles. I have a side interest in British constitutional practice and identity, especially the history of monarchy.
I am now writing a short overview of the history of Liberalism as a political idea in Britain, from 1830 to the present.
My third book, The Politics of Patriotism, sought to explain British politics in its European context. It argued that foreign policy was of fundamental importance to domestic politics, but also that domestic political values shaped debates about British foreign policy. I have also written some survey articles on the theme of Britain and Europe, two yet to be published.
In 2022, I published Promised Lands: The British and the Ottoman Middle East. This book aims to explain how and why nineteenth-century policy-makers developed an interest in the lands between Europe and India that we now call the Middle East, and what they tried to make of them. There is little about domestic politics in it and much more about geopolitical considerations, as well as history, religion and diplomacy. I see it as a work of British history, devoted to understanding British behaviour in a historically neglected area; it does not claim to be a history of the Middle East itself.
In my next project, I hope to explore another part of the nineteenth-century British world, the North Atlantic, and particularly the idea and the reality of British North America (Canada) as a political space.
I also write frequently for the London Review of Books.
Tags & Themes
Cambridge CB2 1RF