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Noel Malcolm : biography

26 December 1956 -

Noel Robert Malcolm FBA FRSL (born 26 December 1956) is an English modern historian, writer, and columnist.


Noel Robert Malcolm was educated at Eton College (where he was a King's Scholar) and read history at Peterhouse, Cambridge between 1974 and 1978. He received his PhD in History from Trinity College, Cambridge, and was a Fellow and College Lecturer of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge from 1981 to 1988.

He was a political columnist (1987–1991) then the foreign editor (1991–1992) of The Spectator, and a political columnist for the Daily Telegraph (1992–1995). He was jointly awarded the T.E. Utley Prize for Political Journalism in 1991. In 1995 he gave up journalism to become a full–time writer. Malcolm was a visiting Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford in 1995–1996, and has been a Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford since 2002. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL) in 1997, and a Fellow of the British Academy in 2001. He is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. He is a Member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo, and an Honorary Fellow of both Peterhouse, Cambridge (since 2010) and Trinity College, Cambridge (since 2011). He serves on the advisory board of the conservative magazine Standpoint.

He is currently the chairman of the Bosnian Institute, London, and is the president of the Anglo-Albanian Association.

Critical reviews and debates

Malcolm's books Bosnia: A Short History (1994) and Kosovo: A Short History (1998) have seen robust debate among historians following their release. For example, following the release of Kosovo: A Short History, the merits of the book were the subject of an extended debate in Foreign Affairs. The debate began with the review of the book by the former Fellow of the Russian Research Center at Harvard University, Aleksa Djilas. Djilas considered that Malcolm's book was "marred by his sympathies for its ethnic Albanian separatists, anti-Serbian bias, and illusions about the Balkans", and Malcolm responded by asserting that Djilas had not produced any evidence to counter that produced in the book, and had instead resorted to belittling both Malcolm and his work, including the use of personal slurs and patronising language. The debate continued with Professor Stevan K. Pavlowitch of the University of Southampton asserting that the book lacked precision, Melanie McDonagh of the Bosnian Institute observing that Djilas' review took a "nationalistic approach", and Norman Cigar of Marine Corps University stating that Djilas was trying to create myths to legitimise Serbian actions in Kosovo.

In late 1999, Thomas Emmert of the history faculty of Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota reviewed the book in Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans Online and while praising aspects of the book also asserted that it was "shaped by the author’s overriding determination to challenge Serbian myths", that Malcolm was "partisan", and also complained that the book made a "transparent attempt to prove that the main Serbian myths are false". Malcolm responded in the same journal in early 2000, asserting that the book challenged both Albanian and Serbian myths about Kosovo, but that there were more Serbian myths about Kosovo than Albanian ones and this explained the greater coverage of Serbian myths in the book. He also observed that Emmert's perspective and work was largely within the framework of Serbian historiography, and that Emmert's own perspective was the reason for Emmert's assertion that Malcolm was "partisan".

Other reviews of Kosovo: A Short History were varied. For example, in English Historical Review, Zbyněk Zeman observed that Malcolm "tries not to take sides", but in American Historical Review, Nicholas J. Miller concluded that the book was "conceptually flawed" due Malcolm's insistence on treating Kosovo as "a place on its own; [rather than] a scrap of irredenta that Serbs and Albanians fight over".




Noel Malcolm is the author of De Dominis, 1560–1624: Venetian, Anglican, ecumenist, and relapsed heretic (1984), George Enescu: His Life and Music (1990), Bosnia: A Short History (1994), Origins of English Nonsense (1997), Kosovo: A Short History (1998), Books on Bosnia: A Critical Bibliography (1999), Aspects of Hobbes (2002), and (with Jacqueline Stedall) John Pell (1611–1685) and His Correspondence with Sir Charles Cavendish: The Mental World of an Early Modern Mathematician (2005). He is the editor of The Correspondence of Thomas Hobbes (1994).

Articles and book reviews

As a journalist and historian, Malcolm has written many articles for newspapers, magazines and journals. Other than his work for The Spectator, the Daily Telegraph and Standpoint he has had articles published in The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, the New York Times, Washington Times, Time and the Daily Mail among other publications. He has also contributed book reviews mainly to The Sunday Telegraph. He has contributed to a number of scholarly journals including Foreign Affairs and the New York Review of Books.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine