Linda Colley


Professor Linda Colley, CBE, FBA, FRSL, FRHistS, is an historian of post-1700 British history with interests in nationalism, empire and global history.

Colley was born on 13 September 1949 in Chester and took her first degree in history at Bristol University, graduating in 1972. She then came to Cambridge where she completed her MA in 1975 and then her doctorate on the Conservative Party in the eighteenth century in 1977. She subsequently held a joint lectureship in history at Newnham and King's Colleges and in 1979 was appointed the first woman Fellow at Christ's College, where she is now an Honorary Fellow. Colley is currently Shelby M. C. Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton University in the United States. She previously held chairs in History at Yale University and the London School of Economics.

Colley is author of a number of critically-acclaimed books which include In Defiance of Oligarchy: The Tory Party 1714–1760 (1982), Namier (1988), Captives: Britain, Empire and the World 1600–1850 (2002) and The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History (2007), which was named by The New York Times as one of the ten best books of the year. Her third book, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837 (1992), won the Wolfson History Prize.

In 1999 she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Academia Europaea.  She holds Honorary degrees from the Universities of Essex, East Anglia, Bristol, Hull and Southbank University.

In 1999 she was invited by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair to deliver the Prime Minister's Millennium Lecture at 10 Downing Street on Britishness of the 21st Century. Among many other scholarly and public lectures, she has delivered the Trevelyan Lectures at Cambridge University (1997), the Wiles Lectures at Queen's University, Belfast (1997), a James Ford Special Lecture and the Bateman Lectures at Oxford University (1998 and 2003), the Nehru Memorial Lecture at the London School of Economics (2003), the Lewis Walpole Memorial Lecture at Yale University (2000), the Carnochan Lecture at Stanford University (1998) and the President's Lecture at Princeton University (2007). As well as the annual ISEHR Lecture, University of Delhi (2011); the Jon Sigurossen Memorial Lecture, University of Iceland (2012); the Margaret Macmillan Lecture in International History, University of Toronto (2013), and the Gomes Lecture, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and the Robbs Lectures at the University of Auckland, New Zealand (2015).

Colley has served on the Board of the British Library from 1999 to 2003, the Council of Tate Gallery of British Art from 1999 to 2003, and on the Board and Trustees of Princeton University Press from 2007 to 12. She is currently a member of the Research Committee of the British Museum.

In 2014, Linda Colley was listed by The Sunday Times as one of the 100 most influential Britons.

Colley writes occasionally for The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement and The New York Review of Books.