George Macaulay Trevelyan

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

Trevelyan, George Macaulay


Born Feb. 16, 1876, in Stratford-on-Avon; died July 20, 1962, in Cambridge. English historian. Maternal grandson of T. B. Macaulay and son of the historian G. O. Trevelyan.

Trevelyan was a professor at Cambridge University from 1927 to 1940. His early works illuminated the history of the Risorgi-mento, the national liberation movement in Italy at the end of the 18th century. His next major works were devoted to British history and carried on the traditions of the Liberal Whig school of historiography. Although Trevelyan exalted the Glorious Revolution of 1688, he criticized it for its extremism. Ignoring the revolution’s class content, he reduced it to a struggle for the abstract ideals of freedom and a parliamentary system, and he attributed this struggle to traits of the English national character. Chartism found no reflection in his works on the history of 19th-century Great Britain.

With respect to the methods and tasks of historical science, Trevelyan believed that the sole task of history was to educate people through discourses on the past. Blurring the distinction between historical writing and literature (and later identifying them completely), he gave paramount importance to the emotional effect produced on the reader. He therefore paid great attention to narrative form, portraits, vivid sketches, and details. Trevelyan emphasized the importance of the biographical genre and wrote several biographies of political figures and scholars.


Garibaldi’s Defence of the Roman Republic. New York, 1907.
Garibaldi and the Making of Italy. London, 1921.
Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848. London, 1923.
Garibaldi and the Thousand. London, 1948.
England in the Age of Wycliffe. London, 1909.
British History in the Nineteenth Century, 1782–1901. Londo’n, 1922.
England Under Queen Anne, vols. 1–3. London, 1930–34.
The English Revolution, 1688–1689. New York, 1939.
History of England. London, 1943.
Clio, a Muse, and Other Essays. London, 1913.
Autobiography and Other Essays. London, 1949.
In Russian translation:
Sotsial’naia istoriia Anglii. Moscow, 1959.
References in periodicals archive ?
Wallington opens on March 1 with a new exhibition of photography depicting the life of George Macaulay Trevelyan, arguably England's greatest historian during the 20th century.
An exhibition on George Macaulay Trevelyan will open on February 28 at the National Trust's Wallington property.
The exhibition of atmospheric black and white photographs from family albums contains images taken by family members, including George Macaulay Trevelyan and his wife and depict the private life of the historian and his family.
George Macaulay Trevelyan lived through 86 years of the most dramatic social changes in Britain and ended his days as a household name.